Mark Smith's Analyst Perspectives

All Analyst Perspectives

The Business Continuity Imperative: Price and Revenue Management for Resilience in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 2, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Economic dynamics and market pressures during a black-swan event can wreak havoc on efforts to effectively manage revenue operations and pricing for business continuity. For many organizations, environmental changes disrupt the methods by which these essential business processes are managed can be disrupted, damaging the revenue streams that create profitability. The array of pricing strategies and related promotional tactics across channels for configure, price and quote (CPQ), digital commerce and subscription management can challenge the best of organizations. Leadership must examine the agility of pricing management to determine if they have ability to make and manage changes to determine the effectiveness of decisions. This requires visibility into revenue operations and selling channels, which in turn requires programs, processes and technology designed to meet the needs of what is called price and revenue management (PRM).  

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: Experience Management across Business for Organizational Effectiveness in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 26, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Over the past several months, I have discussed a wide range of topics that organizations must consider and appropriately prioritize to maintain business continuity during periods of upheaval. But sometimes it’s important to take a step back and reflect on a critical and recurring theme: experiences. The array of experiences across the workforce and business processes both inside and outside of the organization are an essential part of an organization’s success. Leadership must give these experiences the attention they deserve, and this requires visibility into operations and the tools to measure effectiveness, especially during black-swan events. Fulfilling this objective requires the programs, processes and technology designed to meet the needs of what is called experience management (XM).

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Continuous Planning Experience and Organizational Agility in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 19, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Business planning is an essential part of an organization’s focus on its future performance and overall potential because it ensures continuous operations, even in black-swan events. Planning across the entire organization needs to be a critical priority and leadership should give it the attention it deserves. In challenging times, a focus on execution tends to take hold — this is not unreasonable but in focusing on satisfying immediate customer and workforce needs and putting out fires, business leaders too often forget that forward-looking continuous planning is essential to achieving desired outcomes. Fulfilling this objective requires technology designed to meet these needs for every business process in the organization.  

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Workforce Experience and Human Capital Management in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 12, 2020 7:30:00 AM

The workforce is an essential part of an organization’s overall business potential because it ensures continuous operations, even in black-swan events. The workforce is the core of the organization and should get the attention it deserves. In challenging times, a “customer-first” mentality tends to take hold — this is not unreasonable but in focusing on satisfying customers and opportunities, business leaders too often forget that the workforce experience is essential to achieving desired results. Fulfilling this objective requires technology designed to meet these human capital management (HCM) objectives. An organization’s agility and ability to invest adequate time and resources into the workforce experience is essential to an organization’s sustainability and operational effectiveness.

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: Analytics and Data for Engaging Digital Experiences in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 5, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Analytics and data provide visibility into an organization’s past, present and potential performance. However, not all organizations are using analytics that provide timely insights — insights that not just reflect what happen but direct a successful course for the future. Demand for personalized and relevant insight only intensifies in a black-swan event. To maintain business continuity in times of pressure, it is critical that organizations not waste any time or resources when using analytics and data to optimize operations and decision-making. Just having an analytics and data-first mentality and operating in the cloud is insufficient for success, as those are just part of an effective data and analytics effort. Organizations also should include data science and machine learning that can provide an excellent digital experience; unfortunately, this is no simple task.

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Digital Experience in Marketing for 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 28, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Marketing is inextricably linked to business success, and digital technology is essential to an organization’s overall marketing potential because it generates interest and brand awareness. In a black-swan event, the marketing department often is overwhelmed by short-term demands, so in these situations it’s of the essence that digital transformation gets the attention it deserves. In challenging times, a “putting-out-fires” mentality tends to take hold — this is not unreasonable but in focusing on satisfying the interest of the moment, business leaders too often forget that a consistent digital experience is essential to engaging consumers, the public and customers in a way that contributes to long-term success. Fulfilling this objective requires technology designed to deliver for marketing to meet this essential imperative. An organization’s agility and ability to invest adequate time and resources into marketing technology that enables a superior digital experience is essential for its sustainability and operational effectiveness.

Read More

Modernizing PIM for Product Experience Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 25, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Today’s businesses must manage a continually expanding array of data, content and digital assets as well as satisfy the demands of consumers for comprehensive product information. Addressing these challenges requires unified processes and automated systems and, most importantly, the ability to augment and enrich product information. Our earlier PIM research found that more than half (52%) of organizations have incompatible tools and almost half (48%) must cope with disparate forms of data. These are situations that lead to wasted time and inefficiency in checking for errors and reconciling data across systems.

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Agent and Customer with Contact Centers in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 21, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Contact centers play a substantial role in an organization’s success. The customer journey is engaged here, at each moment of interaction. Agents, whether human or machine-driven, are intrinsic to the customer experience and the value of the contact center. Customers are essential to an organizations’ overall business potential because they generate revenue. In a black-swan event, demand for customer service may spike or dip, so in these situations it’s of the essence that agents get the attention they deserve. In challenging times, a “customer-first” mentality tends to take hold — this is natural, but in focusing on satisfying customers, business leaders too often forget that the agent experience is essential to effective customer engagement. Fulfilling this objective requires contact center technology designed for this purpose. An organization’s agility and ability to invest adequate time and resources into agents is essential for its sustainability and contact center effectiveness.

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Subscriber Experience and Subscription Management in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 14, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Subscriptions are the future of business. Subscribers are essential to an organization’s overall business potential because they generate recurring revenue. In a black-swan event, demand for a subscription may spike or dip, so in these situations it’s of the essence that subscriptions get the attention they deserve. In challenging times, a “subscriber-first” mentality tends to take hold — this is not unreasonable but in focusing on satisfying subscribers, business leaders too often forget that the subscription experience is essential to retaining them. Fulfilling this objective requires technology designed for subscriptions. An organization’s agility and ability to invest adequate time and resources into subscriptions is essential for its sustainability and operational effectiveness.

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Partner Experience and Channel Performance Agenda

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 7, 2020 8:10:03 AM

Partners play a key role in the revenue and growth of every organization. Whether channel selling is in assistance to internal sales or independent, what happens in partnering has ramifications that are simply too important to underestimate. The imperative to maintain business continuity with channel partners becomes painfully clear in a global pandemic, and that imperative demands that organizations cultivate partner excellence and channel performance. This effort should start with partner leadership and operations, with the objective of building channel relationships that can survive the test of time. Effective sales channel partnerships are built on mutual trust and a shared belief in the market opportunity, and recruiting and managing partners must be supported by effective processes and technology. The health of these relationships and the resulting revenue from the channel hinges on an effective partner experience, and this requires technology investments that enable leaders to not just manage channel performance, but help inspire it every single day.

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Product Experience for Buyer and Customer Delight in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on May 31, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Products and services are the foundation of every organization, regardless of its industry or size. Products are essential to an organization’s overall business health because they generate revenue and engage buyers and customers. In a black-swan event, demand for a product may spike or dip, so in these situations it’s of the essence that products get the attention they deserve as they are marketed, sold, serviced and enhanced with innovations. In challenging times, a “customer-first” mentality tends to take hold — this is not unreasonable but in a rush to satisfy customers, business leaders too often forget that the product experience is essential to fulfilling on the customer experience and satisfying customers and buyers. An organization’s agility and ability to invest adequate time and resources into products is essential for its sustainability and operational effectiveness.

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Work Experience and Workforce Engagement Agenda

Posted by Mark Smith on May 24, 2020 3:00:00 AM

The workforce is the center of any organization, no matter if the workforce consists of employees, contractors or what we call gig workers. It stands to reason that a black-swan event has an immediate impact on a workforce and thus an organization’s overall business health. In challenging times, a “family-first” mentality tends to take hold — a reality that, far too often, business leaders and HR organizations underestimate. But organizational readiness is essential for sustainability and operational effectiveness.

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Selling Experience and Sales Performance Agenda

Posted by Mark Smith on May 17, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Sales plays a lead role in the revenue and growth of every organization. Whether the selling is direct or indirect, what happens in the sales department has ramifications that are perilous to underestimate. The imperative to maintain business continuity becomes painfully clear in a global pandemic, and that imperative demands that organizations cultivate sales excellence. This effort should start with leadership and engage sales operations, management and professionals with the objective of building customer relationships that can survive the test of time. The health of a sales organization hinges on an effective selling experience, and this requires technology investments that enable leaders to not just manage sales performance but help inspire it every single day.

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Supplier Relationship and Experience

Posted by Mark Smith on May 10, 2020 6:30:00 AM

Suppliers play a critical role in supporting the operations and processes of every organization. Whether direct or indirect, an organization’s relationship with its suppliers has ramifications that are perilous to underestimate. The imperative to maintain business continuity becomes painfully clear in a global pandemic, and that imperative demands that organizations cultivate excellent supplier relationships.  

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: The Voice and Mission of Your Customer Experience

Posted by Mark Smith on May 3, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Supercharging the customer experience (CX) is more than just an opportunity. It’s essential for every organization that looks to optimize engagement at every moment of the customer journey. In times such as these, when business continuity is a top priority, organizations must address the customer experience, especially if it has not been a focal point of the executive team.

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: Digital Technology for Optimal Operations in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 26, 2020 3:00:00 AM

The imperative to infuse digital technology into your organization is not new, but it’s more essential than ever that organizations embrace digital transformation and business continuity to improve processes. I have recently written about the need for digital innovation in business continuity, outlining the steps every organization needs to take. These steps involve a close examination of the digital technology they can apply effectively for business continuity during a pandemic, natural disaster, cyber event or geopolitical situation.

Read More

The Business Continuity Imperative: Digital Innovation for Optimal Experiences in 2020 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 19, 2020 3:00:00 AM

At Ventana Research we’re familiar with the need for digital transformation as we have been researching and providing education on this topic for almost two decades. And recent global challenges make even clearer the sea change at hand: digital innovation is essential for not only success, but survival. Business continuity during a pandemic, natural disaster, cyber event or geopolitical situation requires business and risk mitigation processes, but unfortunately very few organizations had been doing so. We are seeing how quickly organizations are going into survival mode, in how they operate and communicate to meet the expectations of the workforce, customers, stakeholders and potentially shareholders.

Read More

Embrace Your Customers and Buyers with Digital Values

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 2, 2020 3:07:18 PM

I would like to share some of my thoughts on COVID-19 and the challenges organizations are facing as they strive for business continuity and digital engagement with customers and buyers. As the global and US numbers get worse by the day, the pandemic is impacting life as we knew it and also leaves people (many in new forms of isolation) yearning for a bit of normalcy during these strange times.

Read More

The Potential of Marketing in 2020: Ventana Research Agenda

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 27, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2020 research agenda for marketing, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations derive optimal value from business technology and improve outcomes. Chief Marketing Officers are under pressure to spearhead technology investments that help better align marketing experiences with their brand and to optimize consumer demand for products and services. This challenge is frequently heightened by a lack of centralized data related to customers and products that can help an organization meet operational and analytics needs. Organizations need a marketing data platform that connects applications and services; however, a lack of data science skills has hampered the marketing organization’s full potential.

Read More

The Ventana Research Operations and the Supply Chain Agenda in 2020

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 26, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2020 research agenda for operations and the supply chain, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations across industries derive optimal value from business technology and improve outcomes. Organizations must shift their focus on technology investments to include not just operational productivity but the efficiency of the processes that impact customers’ and workers’ experiences.

Read More

The Revolution in Sales in 2020: Ventana Research Agenda

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 25, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2020 research agenda for sales, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations derive optimal value from business technology and improve outcomes. Chief sales and revenue officers face an imperative to manage the sales organization but they don’t always have the guidance they need to embrace technology and gain the best possible outcomes. As we look forward to 2020 we’re focusing on the selling experience and the applications that simplify processes and tasks across the sales organization.

Read More

The Imperative for Customer Experience in 2020: Ventana Research Agenda

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 19, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2020 research agenda in the area of the customer experience. For most organizations, a focus on the customer is not new, but maximizing successful customer interactions has recently become a major investment priority. The customer experience (CX) is an analytic framework that organizations can use to improve customer satisfaction, optimize revenue and achieve operational excellence. As we begin 2020 we are encouraging organizations to invest in a focus on the experiences of customers but also to balance it with focuses on the agent experience and experiences with products or services.

Read More

The Ventana Research Digital Technology Agenda in 2020

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 13, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2020 research agenda for digital technology, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations derive optimal value and improve business outcomes. While we have seen more than four decades of digital transformation in the systems and tools businesses rely on, recent years have yielded transformative approaches to technology that can finally actually change the way people and processes work, rather than just make traditional processes more efficient. 

Read More

Incentive Solutions Shows Potential in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 20, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Incentive Solutions drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Incentive Solutions and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

Read More

NICE is a Leader in Reliability for Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 18, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on NICE drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated NICE and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

Read More

beqom is a Value Index Leader for Manageability in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 16, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on beqom drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated beqom and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

Read More

SAP Provides Mature and Balanced Sales Performance Management Offering

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 13, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on SAP drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated SAP and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

Read More

Optymyze Provides Robust Platform and Sales Performance Management Suite

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 11, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Optymyze drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Optymyze and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

Read More

Anaplan is a Value Index Leader for Validation in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 9, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Anaplan drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Anaplan and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

Read More

Varicent is a Value Index Leader in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 6, 2019 7:00:00 AM

With the backing of Great Hill Partners and Spectrum Equity, the company Varicent Software launched on Jan. 1st, purchasing IBM’s Sales Performance Management (SPM) assets and hiring employees from IBM’s SPM group. They will join a new team that includes Varicent’s original founders and key leadership.

This set of insights is drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated IBM, now Varicent, and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

Read More

Xactly Demonstrates Strong Performance in SPM Value Index

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 4, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Xactly drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Xactly and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

Read More

Oracle Leads Sales Performance Management Value Index

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 2, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Here are some insights on Oracle drawn from our latest Value Index research, which provides an analytic assessment of how well vendor offerings address buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index on Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We evaluated Oracle and eight other vendors in seven categories, five product-related adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two concerning the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each of the seven categories to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on data derived from our benchmark research on sales performance management.

Read More

A 360-Degree View of the Customer Journey Can Provide Customer Experience Insights

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 7, 2019 7:00:00 AM

For interactions with customers to go well, organizations must manage an ever-increasing array of engagement channels. Our research finds that organizations expect to see interaction volumes increase on all channels, especially digital ones such as text-based messaging, chat, mobile and social apps. Unfortunately, the systems that manage these channels are typically disparate and uncoordinated and may not use the same underlying technology. This makes it difficult for organizations to coordinate customer interactions consistently and provide the best possible customer experience.

Read More

Technology Really Does Matter for Customer Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 5, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Using customer analytics effectively involves several challenges. Organizations must make it a business priority, cultivate leadership and set a course for ensuring data and analytics are being processed and governed effectively. But effectiveness also requires technology that will assist in the effective operations and management of customers and help an organization achieve its goals.

Read More

Identifying the Leaders in Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 31, 2019 7:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insights from our latest Value Index research, which rates how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). The Ventana Research Value Index: Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. Drawing on our benchmark research and expertise, this research-based index is the first such evaluation to assess the full business value of sales performance management software. You can learn more about our Value Index as an effective vendor selection and RFI/RFP tool here and participating vendors can learn more about how to use the Value Index here.

Read More

Effective Customer Analytics Requires Comprehensive Data and Metrics

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 29, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Customer analytics have never been more important, but effectively creating and managing them is not easy. The data that’s required to achieve visibility into all customer activity involves many applications and systems and it’s a challenge to ensure the data used is accurate and consistent. Even once data is assembled, organizations often struggle to apply analytics to create the metrics that best represent an understanding of the past and, more importantly, the path to the future.

Read More

The Science of Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 24, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Ensuring that the sales organization contributes as fully as possible to the success of the organization — to revenue, growth, profitability and the overall customer experience — requires not only dedication but effective strategy and planning. A well-developed strategy and plan to utilize current and future sales talent is essential for the best possible sales performance. To carry out this mission, organizations need a set of coordinated sales-related activities, processes and systems that enable the sales organization, from leadership and operations to the manager and sellers, to operate in a coordinated and collaborative manner. We call this sales performance management.

Read More

The Challenges in Customer Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 22, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Today’s intense competition requires that companies know as much as they can about their customers in order to anticipate their needs and deliver a superior customer experience. However, many organizations struggle to do this well. Implementing initiatives to improve customer value across any department or process involving customers requires both in-depth visibility into current operations and excellent metrics.

Read More

Gaining Dynamic Insights on Sales Planning

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 15, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Managing sales processes and resources without careful planning is a recipe for failure. Effectiveness in sales starts with planning that involves the full range of stakeholders. This planning should involve a systematic process, incorporate all relevant information and be supported by capable software designed for this purpose. Furthermore, everyone who participates in sales-related activities, including those dealing with quotas, territories and resources, should be providing input for the planning. Without broad participation the likelihood of less-than-optimal planning increases and anyone who is excluded may not fully buy into the plan and its execution.

Read More

Dynamic Insights Research on Sales Analytics Guides Innovation, not Evolution

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 4, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Having effective analytics enables businesses to understand far better than ever before the data they’re collecting, and to do so in greater volumes and more forms. These new capabilities are especially relevant to sales organizations. When applied to sales data, analytics can help sales teams achieve quotas and forecast more consistently, as well as understand the impacts of incentives and maximize the potential of territories, all of which help improve sales performance. These benefits provide the foundation for a business case to adopt analytics tools that generate information to guide actions and decision-making for sales organizations.

Read More

AWS Lags in Connecting Contact Centers in Cloud Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 6, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insight on AWS drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated AWS and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud. 

Read More

8x8 Brings Good to Contact Center in the Cloud Market

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 3, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insight on 8x8 drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated 8x8 and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud. .

Read More

Altitude Brings Simplification to Customer Engagement for Contact Centers

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insight on Altitude drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated Altitude and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud.

Read More

Five9 Brings Balanced Value to Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 21, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insight on Five9 drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated Five9 and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud.

Read More

RingCentral Brings SMB Value to Contact Centers

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 19, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insight on RingCentral drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated RingCentral and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud.

Read More

IFS brings Focus to CX with Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 15, 2018 12:17:56 PM

I am happy to share some insight on IFS-mplsystems drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated IFS-mplsystems and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud.

Read More

Content Guru Brings Manageable Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 15, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insight on Content Guru drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated Content Guru and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud.

Read More

NewVoiceMedia Demonstrates its Validation in Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 13, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insight on NewVoiceMedia drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated NewVoiceMedia and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud.

Read More

Serenova Simplifies Contact Center in the Cloud for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 8, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insight on Serenova drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated Serenova and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud.

Read More

Genesys Brings a Pure Focus to Contact Center in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 5, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insight on Genesys drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated Genesys and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud.

Read More

Cisco Unified Contact Centers in Cloud Computing with BroadSoft

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 29, 2018 8:53:14 AM

I am happy to share some insight on BroadSoft drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated BroadSoft and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud.

Read More

Aspect Brings Great TCO and ROI for Contact Centers in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 25, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insight on Aspect Software drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated Aspect Software and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud.

Read More

NICE inContact Leads the Pack in Contact Center in Cloud Value Index

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 22, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insight on NICE inContact drawn from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. We utilized a structured research methodology that includes evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal (RFP) and vendor selection process for contact centers in the cloud. We evaluated NICE inContact and 12 other vendors in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). To arrive at the Value Index rating for a given vendor, we weighted each category to reflect its relative importance in an RFP process, with the weightings based on our experience and data derived from our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud.

Read More

Salesforce Brings Conversation and Customer Experience to the Forefront

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 16, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Dreamforce has become the largest enterprise software event for businesses in the United States, and it is evident why when looking at it this year. With over 170,000 business and IT professionals attending, Salesforce came to show off upcoming product announcements and innovations. This year's biggest focus was on Einstein Voice (a personalized and intelligent conversational assistant), integration with other platforms, and Salesforce Customer 360. The last of these is the start of an answer to a problem we have well documented; businesses struggle getting a full view of the customer and provide a frictionless response to issues and interactions. For the full breakdown of Dreamforce 2018, and my analysis of all the largest announcements, watch my hot take video.

Read More

2018 Value Index for Contact Center in the Cloud Vendor Ratings

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 15, 2018 6:00:00 AM

I am happy to share some insights gleaned from our latest research. The Ventana Research Value Index: Contact Center in the Cloud in 2018 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. Drawing on our benchmark research, we utilize a structured research methodology with evaluation categories designed to reflect the breadth of the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal to vendors in contact centers in the cloud. Using this methodology, we evaluated vendor submissions in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). This research-based index is the first such industry undertaking to assess the full business value of software designed for enabling a contact center in the cloud. You can learn more about our Value Index as an effective vendor selection and RFI/RFP tool at https://www.ventanaresearch.com/value-indexes/inclusion.

Read More

Supercharging Customer Experiences Through Contact Centers in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 11, 2018 6:00:00 AM

An intensified focus on the customer is driving the trend toward enabling omnichannel support in contact centers, our benchmark research on contact centers in the cloud has found. In my last analyst perspective I highlighted some key benefits of a contact center in the cloud. In this perspective, I want to elaborate on the finding that only about one-third (35%) of organizations participating in our benchmark research said their customers are satisfied with the way interactions are handled. Far more (47%) said their customers are only somewhat satisfied, which may not be good enough in a fiercely competitive marketplace. Not surprisingly, improving the customer's experience is the most common motivator (cited by 82%) for change in the technology being used.

Read More

Embracing New Channels Through Contact Center and Cloud Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 8, 2018 6:00:00 AM

To remain competitive, organizations must deliver the best possible customer experience through all channels of engagement. One technological approach to accomplish this is to enable a contact center to handle all the channels through which customer interactions with the organization are routed and acted upon. The contact center continues to need to handle telephony, of course, as this remains a channel that carries a significant portion of interactions. But new channels continue to be added to the interaction mix. With the advent of cloud computing, enabling systems and technologies to be managed on the Internet rather than on the premises of an organization, contact centers can be established and interaction channels can be added and configured far more easily.

Read More

AI in Business: Hypocrisy and Opportunity

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 6, 2018 8:17:26 AM

We now are well beyond the year depicted in 2001: A Space Odyssey, a cinematic perspective on the future of artificial intelligence in which HAL 9000, a computer, is able to simulate human behavior and control machines. Anyone reviewing the past two years of marketing around AI in the business technology industry can be forgiven for believing that we have arrived at the futuristic state Stanley Kubrick imagined. We have not.

Read More

GDPR: Business or Technology Vendors Ready or Not?

Posted by Mark Smith on May 11, 2018 8:36:25 AM

We are have arrived at the May 25, 2018 date when the European Union’s General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR) become enforceable, following what has been a two-year transition period. Companies were given this time to put in place reasonable measures and the systems necessary to support the legislation’s wide-ranging personal data privacy requirements, which apply to any organization with more than 250 employees that serves EU citizens. While this regulation will apply in the EU, it has implications for any organization in the world that provides services involving the personal data of any EU citizen.

Read More

Beyond Digital Transformation: Effective Technology Innovation in 2018

Posted by Mark Smith on May 7, 2018 12:55:31 AM

Advancing the potential of any business requires continuous improvement in the processes and technology that support it. Many companies have embraced attempts at a digital transformation, and it’s become a goal to which organizational resources and budgets have been dedicated around the globe.

Read More

Broken Analytics and BI? Natural Language and Notifications Can Help

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 15, 2017 11:43:52 PM

If we look at the focus of technology vendors for analytics and business intelligence or business applications providers deploying these capabilities in the last five years, we see that they have elevated the importance on the value of visualization and dashboards. These promotions might be understandable, but will they make business and the people using them more intelligent?

Read More

Salesforce Fails Again in Customer Experience

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 14, 2017 2:02:52 AM

More than a year ago I wrote from personal experience about the challenges our firm encountered with Salesforce’s cloud computing systems and customer service and if we can trust them for business in the cloud. That perspective covered a range of issues that the behemoth cloud computing applications and platform company is facing regarding its service and technology. While Salesforce has shifted its customers like us and others to a different cloud computing environment, as it did in moving us off its #NA14 cloud computing instance, core challenges of its customer experience and billing processes persist. After the last customer experience incident, I contacted its executives about the need for operational improvement; it was clear in the dialogue that they saw some but not all of our experience as issues important to improving its customer processes. It was good to get some immediate attention, but my hope was to speak for all SMB companies in pointing out the importance of effective communications and escalating notifications and interactions when those customer moments go sour, so the customer isn’t forced to turn to social media to be heard. This was an area where Salesforce had significant room for improvement in customer engagement, reflecting a pattern we see in our benchmark research, which finds the most common challenges in almost half of organizations are integration of channels of engagement and managing activities as silos.

Read More

Compensation Management Software Vendors Evaluated in Value Index

Posted by Mark Smith on May 22, 2017 8:22:32 AM

Compensation and the processes and systems to support it are at the center of success in every organization, as I have noted recently. In our view, an investment in total compensa­tion management software is a strategic step toward advancing human capital management. Our benchmark research on this topic found some prog­ress in attitudes about mod­ern­izing compensation practices. Almost three-fourths (72%) of organizations said that it is important or very important to have a total compensation management system rather than a piecemeal approach. Moreover, nearly half (49%) told us they are confident or very confident that their organization currently manages its compensation processes effectively.

Read More

Supercharge Sales Analytics with Digital Technologies

Posted by Mark Smith on May 12, 2017 8:44:14 AM

Our firm regularly explores the impacts of new technologies on business. Analytics is foremost among recently emerging technologies, which our benchmark research consistently confirms. In our research on next-generation sales analytics, fourth-fifths (82%) of participating organizations cited analytics as the most important technology trend for sales; however, several other technologies also are adding power and flexibility to the use of sales analytics.

Read More

Prepare and Wrangle Data for Sales Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on May 5, 2017 8:28:39 AM

The importance of analytics for sales organizations is clear and, as I pointed out in my recent analyst perspective on the next generation of sales analytics, these capabilities optimize revenue potential. However, utilizing sales analytics requires a set of data skills that most organizations still find challenging and are thus not fully prepared to support. The efficient access and preparation of data underlies any analytics processes, which must meet demanding needs that are not always automated. Our research into next generation sales analytics has found many impediments that must be addressed and is a critical part of our expertise agenda for sales organizations.

Read More

Effective Compensation Systems Transforms Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on May 2, 2017 1:51:55 AM

Compensation management is essential for any organization that values engaging and retaining its employees. It is a fundamental component of a range of personnel-related activities – recruiting and hiring, assessing performance, and career and succession planning. Determining and providing appropriate compensation, which may involve base pay, merit pay, variable pay and incentives or bonuses, is equally important for all members of the workforce – full- or part-time employees, contingent or on-demand workers and contractors. Incentives are an important part of compensation. Business areas such as call centers, sales forces and field service frequently tie incentive compensation to performance objectives. Whatever the particulars, the effectiveness of compensation directly relates to the core challenge faced by human resources departments: keeping employees productive, satisfied and motivated.

Read More

New Generation of Sales Analytics Can Optimize Revenue Potential

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 27, 2017 11:22:59 AM

I have been following advances in sales analytics since the 1990s. Over the last five years, however, I have seen evolution, not innovation. In most cases the information that analytics provides is too complicated and not contextualized enough for sales people who are not analytics experts to understand, let alone take action on. As I pointed out in my 2017 research agenda on sales, analytics is essential for planning that improves the impacts of sales efforts and meets the goals of the organization.

Read More

Cloudera Strengthens Big Data for Business and IT

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 30, 2017 12:56:38 AM

Cloudera provides database and enabling technology for the big data market and overall for data and information management. As my colleague David Menninger has written, the big data and information management technology markets are changing rapidly and require vendors to adapt to them. Cloudera has grown significantly over the last decade and now has approximately 1,000 customers and provides support and services in countries around the world. Its product and technology strategy is to provide a unified data management platform, Cloudera Enterprise, that can meet the data engineering and science needs for a range of analytic and operational database applications. Its primary focus is its Enterprise Data Hub, which as a data lake can handle organizations’ big data and analytical needs. As David Menninger asserts, the data lake is a safe way to invest in big data. It also helps shift the focus  away from the V’s (volume, velocity and variety) of big data to the A’s, which are analytics, awareness, anticipation and action.

Read More

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.

Read More

Leaders in Workforce Management Software for 2017

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 17, 2017 9:31:41 AM

Workforce management is a key topic of expertise for Ventana Research. We define workforce management as the set of activities and processes organizations use to manage their hourly and salaried workforce for maximum productivity. It involves not only scheduling, tracking and paying for time worked but also aligning that work to the tasks and objectives of the organization. Workforce management is a critical component of every company’s operations, human resources and overall human capital management processes, as I recently pointed out. It helps organizations manage their workforces efficiently in such areas as scheduling, time and attendance, absence tracking and clocking work time, and ensures compliance with regulations and efficient payroll processing. Thus effective support of workers, managers, management and the operations and administration of the total workforce is at the heart of workforce management.

Read More

New Potential for Human Capital Management in 2017

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 13, 2017 7:59:53 AM

Human capital management (HCM) offers a prime opportunity for organizations and their human resource professionals to make employee-related processes effective in engaging and retaining the workforce. Manual administrative processes often hampered HR in focusing on the workplace experience and employee satisfaction. Modern HCM applications can help them manage members of the workforce as critical assets and make continuous investment in people-related processes, deriving insights on issue such as health and benefits through analytics applied to HR information. This year we will examine attitudes and changes in how organizations approach HCM through a new research endeavor using our latest research product. We will further deepen the knowledge across six essential aspects of HCM as discussed below and outlined in our HCM agenda for 2017.

Read More

Ventana Research Unveils New Digital Marketing Mastery

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 17, 2016 12:21:03 AM

Today’s rapid changes in technology have left many companies behind in the digital transformation that is shaping the future of marketing, sales, commerce and client engagement. At Ventana Research we have seen this change coming, having been close observers and analysts of technological shifts for almost 15 years, providing continuous research and guidance to the technology industry. Now the leading edge is the digital point of engagement with customers through websites and social media. Earlier this year I wrote about mastering marketing mayhem in a meaningful, meticulous manner explaining how organizations can adapt to the new digital reality. Well, we are taking our own advice. Ventana Research spent the first half of 2016 reflecting on lessons learned and best practices from our research and advisory efforts. The result is our new community and website, www.ventanaresearch.com that we have announced and is available for everyone on the Internet. With it we strive to set an example of simplicity in engaging an audience in need of insights and education on technology applied to business.

Read More

Allocadia Enables Excellence in Managing and Operating Marketing

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 1, 2016 11:50:13 AM

The relevance of marketing to an organization depends on planning and performance measured against it. In writing about marketing management I have observed the marketing mayhem that can occur but also have noted that organizations that take marketing performance management seriously are in better position to assess their efforts in relation to goals and outcomes. I have a little experience in having been a CMO and VP Marketing in my career and know how frantic it can be to managing marketing. Taking it seriously requires more effective technology than spreadsheets and presentations; we recommend using a dedicated application that supports management of both marketing operations and processes that contribute to optimal performance.

Read More

Marketing Planning Improves Performance

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 27, 2016 3:01:25 AM

As global business increases competitive pressures, marketing departments face new challenges. They must anticipate and respond to frequently changing customer preferences and produce effective programs and campaigns to attract them. In the online world where customers can jump instantly from one company to another, Marketing must develop new ways to catch and hold their attention. Doing this well requires systematic, flexible planning that begins with the CMO and engages the entire department to utilize the full portfolio of resources and act as one to serve their mission.

Read More

The Mastery of Marketing Performance Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 18, 2016 5:26:28 AM

Managing marketing performance is anything but simple. It requires establishing a unified approach to assess the outcomes of initiatives and projects and compare results with investments in marketing people and campaigns. In general, while performance management has been conducted effectively at the corporate levels, it has been a challenge for most lines of business, marketing departments included.

Read More

Is NetSuite Sweet for Customers?

Posted by Ventana Research on May 26, 2016 9:58:59 AM

It’s widely agreed that customer experience is now the most important dynamic for business. Any organization that wants to retain loyal and even vocal customers should do everything possible to ensure and maintain customer satisfaction. Software companies, especially those that promise to provide CRM and effective interactions across any channel at any time, should be good examples of embracing the methods they prescribe for using their products. But do they?

Read More

Next Generation of Product Information Management Empowers Digital Business

Posted by Ventana Research on May 24, 2016 9:22:34 AM

Organizations in all industries face various difficulties in managing product information. The most serious is providing complete, engaging information to consumers and customers on the internet. Newly developed products, mergers and acquisitions, changes to pricing and promotions in online commerce spur business growth, but these factors also increase the amount and complexity of product-related data and content. In addition the digital economy offers a new generation of services that are sold by subscription and packaged in various options and price points. As well, global diversification of suppliers, customers and business partners forces organizations to manage data quality and consistency in multiple locations, currencies and languages.

Read More

Mr. President and Department of Labor: Move Aside; Let Employees Work and Learn

Posted by Ventana Research on May 21, 2016 1:33:19 PM

Through a federal rule referred to as “Overtime Rule” and part of Title 29 regulations was issued on May 18th, 2016 by the Department of Labor (DOL), the Obama administration now mandates that unless they meet criteria for exemption, employees paid less than $47,476 ($22.825 per hour) are entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours per week. The rule change, which goes into effective on December 1, 2016, is intended to apply to executive, administrative and professional employees; it has exemptions for teachers, lawyers and other specific jobs and industries.

Read More

Can We Trust Salesforce for Business in the Cloud?

Posted by Mark Smith on May 14, 2016 9:30:47 AM

I have been meaning to write about Salesforce since its Dreamforce 2015 conference. Salesforce provides a platform, tools and applications for business and IT who claims to be the ‘no software’ company which as you will read is exactly what happened on May 10th. Heck, Salesforce is making a lot of advances on its platform, its applications and even with Analytics and the Internet of Things. These changes are at the center of what at our analyst firm calls digital business innovation. Much of what it’s doing is very good, but now I am questioning whether the company’s foundation of business processes and technology platform has reached a point at which it can’t grow any further without impacting its own customers’ operations and success. That may be a harsh statement, but I think my reasoning will become clear as you read this perspective.

Read More

Digital Business Innovation and Enterprise Messaging Work Well Together

Posted by Ventana Research on May 11, 2016 8:30:52 AM

Organizations are facing a digital transformation, as I have written, that is rapidly changing the applications and services that businesses use to operate and deliver information. This new digital generation addresses the expectations of consumers and business partners for information and service in real time. One example of it is enterprise messaging. Recently I wrote about the shift to this technology and the challenges it poses for organizations that lack sufficient skills. However, new messaging appliances and virtualized messaging can carry some of this burden. By interconnecting them, organizations can be more confident in their ability to support the range of information and applications that operate in real time, not only for people but on devices and machines.

Read More

New Generation of Compensation Software Enhances Human Capital Management

Posted by Ventana Research on May 9, 2016 12:09:04 PM

Compensation management is a key activity for engaging all employees and thus for human capital management. I discussed this connection in my perspective on unifying human capital management. In a further step in that direction, I am excited to announce the launch of our next-generation compensation management benchmark research. Determining and providing the appropriate compensation for each person, whether it involves base pay, merit pay, variable pay and incentives or bonuses, or a combination of these, is critical to being able to attract and retain productive members of the workforce – full- or part-time employees, contingent workers and contractors alike. Incentive compensation tied to objectives often is critical in business areas such as call centers, sales and field service. The complexities of compensation make more difficult the core challenge faced by human resources departments: keeping employees productive, satisfied and motivated.

Read More

New Generation of Enterprise Messaging Supports Digital Transformation

Posted by Ventana Research on May 9, 2016 11:44:58 AM

Enterprise messaging is the technology backbone of communications for applications and systems within and between organizations. Both its importance and its complexity are growing as organizations increasingly have to provide real-time responses to business customers and consumers as well as their own business professionals who support them and their internal supply chains. The variety of use cases for enterprise messaging also is growing rapidly, expanding to the Internet of Things (IoT) market of sensors and devices including wearable technology; to new generations of applications and services for consumers and customers; to cloud computing and the shift to platform or infrastructure as a service (PaaS or IaaS); and to real-time big data and analytics. All of these innovations will enable these types of transformation to digital business that is impacting organizations around the world.

Read More

Zuora Enables Subscriptions to Engage Customers for Revenue Results

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 28, 2016 10:26:07 AM

As the global economy transforms into a world of digital services that cross industries, including those that provide value-added services for physical products, managing the complications that arise from digital browsing, selection and purchasing of goods, as well as activation, billing and servicing of accounts, becomes a challenge. Organizations have to not just engage customers but provide satisfying experiences that keep them coming back. Our benchmark research on next-generation customer engagement shows that improving the customer experience is the most widespread impetus to improve engagement, for almost three-quarters (74%) of organizations. Few however have established business processes and applications that support these efforts, which today involve marketing, sales, customer service, operations and accounting departments. We also find that some of the largest suppliers of cloud computing software provide the worst experiences when it comes to billing for and changing existing subscriptions.

Read More

Docebo Innovates Learning Management Systems for Employees and Customers

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 14, 2016 8:29:15 AM

The learning management system (LMS) offers opportunity for organizations to progressively enhance the effectiveness of their workforce. An advanced LMS can be more than a digital version of an organization’s training programs for specific jobs or to achieve compliance with policies and regulations. It can provide dynamic yet informal learning that business units can create, deploy and sustain through their own efforts. Last year I outlined the benefits of this new generation of learning management systems.

Read More

Meridian Helps Communities and Customers with Learning Management System

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 1, 2016 9:58:59 AM

In this highly competitive age, optimizing the potential of workers is essential. A learning management system (LMS) can increase both knowledge and engagement. Our benchmark research on next-generation learning management systems finds that adopting one can help almost half (46%) of organizations gain a competitive advantage, and more than one-third (35%) said it assists in helping customers. Expanded use of learning can engage customers, partners and others who need more information about an organization or its products and services. Thus we suggest that learning systems should be used for and made available in customer and third party communities. Doing so can enhance effective use of products and services and help reduce the volume of inbound calls to and interactions with the contact center.

Read More

Mastering Marketing Mayhem in a Meaningful, Meticulous Manner

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 31, 2016 8:57:27 AM

I hope this title captures your attention; I’m trying to make a point about the chaos going on in managing and operating marketing. What marketing needs in 2016 is to manage and optimize its efforts in a more unified manner. This perspective kicks off a new series on the challenges for marketing to automate or execute tasks and manage toward maximum performance. We all know that the craft of marketing is in need of significant transformation, from the CMO throughout the entire marketing organization and all the way out to the experience of consumers and customers. But this may be a fanciful mission, as applications and technology does not really automate marketing let alone manage it. Most marketing automation products are specialized applications that are not used by marketing management, let alone front-line marketing managers; they are for specialized needs in demand generation or digital marketing that personalizes inbound and outbound interactions with contacts for the purpose of advancing dialogue and creating relationships. Marketing automation, like its cousin sales force automation, has been a placeholder category that describes only a narrow slice of marketing, and the term has been co-opted by the industry for its own purposes. Though some observers predict that CMOs will outspend CIOs and other leaders of the business in technology investments, I have debunked this ludicrous idea; even if it were true, that would not make marketing departments much more efficient in their management and operations. To counterbalance the silliness of the marketing automation dialogue, I plan to bring you a series on key areas for investment to start the conversation. Evaluating them should help Marketing demonstrate its commitment to promoting effectively its organization and its products and services. Here is an overview of the many issues in the landscape.

Read More

Supercharging Sales and Commerce in 2016

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 29, 2016 9:54:37 AM

For several years I have been advocating that sales organizations adapt their processes and applications to optimize both sales performance and the customer experience. For details see my research agenda for last year. However, it appears that not many sales organizations have responded to this challenge; many can barely maintain their quarterly sales forecasts and monthly pipeline, track progress toward quotas and ensure that sales commissions are processed promptly and paid accurately. A great many are still using spreadsheets for these critical activities. Yet our benchmark research finds that more than half (61%) who use them for commissions said this makes the effort more difficult. Elsewhere, I have seen B2B sales organizations continue down the old path of annoying prospects with direct cold calling and email instead of nurturing real relationships. For B2C sales, the digital age of search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) has begun to haunt prospects by inserting ads in our personal social media channels. My research suggests that these practices are not due to bad intentions but to force of habit and lack of desire, time and resources to develop a modern strategy and plan. Most are just managing the basics of their sales processes and relying on sales force automation (SFA) systems, reporting and dashboards, which will only produce more of the same, less than optimal results.

Read More

Qlik Makes Sense of its Analytics and Business Value

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 29, 2016 9:10:58 AM

At the 2015 technology analyst summit in Austin, Texas, analytics and business intelligence software vendor Qlik discussed recent market and product developments and explained its roadmap and strategy for 2016. Discussion topics included its Qlik Analytics Platform and QlikView 12.0, Qlik Sense and Qlik DataMarket, applications built on the platform but also how it is expanding its analytics experience for business.

Read More

Unifying Human Capital Management in 2016

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 18, 2016 7:13:27 AM

Businesses and their human resource organizations feel pressure to maximize the value of their human capital in today’s intensely competitive world. Many have made or considered investments in new applications that better exploit information to efficiently recruit, engage and retain the best talent. Advanced applications not only advance these processes but also help management assess the performance of the workforce and compensate individuals fairly so that they advance their careers and find the level of employee satisfaction in the organization. A year ago I outlined the priorities in human capital management (HCM). During the past year our research found a significant number of companies lacking a unified HCM strategy that includes processes and the applications to support it. As others advance, HR organizations that are not equipped with such skills, resources and tools risk falling behind in human capital management as it contributes to business success.

Read More

Digital Technology Agenda for Business in 2016

Posted by Ventana Research on Mar 10, 2016 9:57:24 AM

Technology innovation is accelerating faster than companies can keep up with. Many feel pressure to adopt new strategies that technology makes possible and find the resources required for necessary investments. In 2015 our research and analysis revealed many organizations upgrading key business applications to operate in the cloud and some enabling access to information for employees through mobile devices. Despite these steps, we find significant levels of digital disruption impacting every line of business. In our series of research agendas for 2016 we outline the areas of technology that organizations need to understand if they hope to optimize their business processes and empower their employees to handle tasks and make decisions effectively. Every industry, line of business and IT department will need to be aware of how new technology can provide opportunities to get ahead of, or at least keep up with, their competitors and focus on achieving the most effective outcomes.

Read More

Workday Works Wonders on Platform for HCM

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 24, 2015 9:33:58 PM

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a software category that includes an array of business applications that includes human resources and finance. Workday is a vendor at the center of a new generation of ERP. My colleague Robert Kugel recently covered that company’s advances in finance using cloud computing to operate its platform. And I recently attended Workday’s technology analyst summit, where I got a deeper view of the technology under its applications and its efforts to perfect its processing potential. The company’s platform can support a broad range of applications, and it is advancing its efforts in analytics, collaboration and business planning. Today, however, only Workday itself is allowed to build applications on the platform, a situation that contrasts with many other ERP providers that make theirs available to third-party software developers and consultants.

Read More

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.

Read More

Domo Delivers on Managing Business Performance

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 18, 2015 12:05:16 AM

Over the last four years Domo, a new brand in cloud-based data and analytics software, has worked to enable its customers to understand, collaborate and act on data to achieve business results. Led by its founder and CEO, Josh James, the company has worked to deliver software that provides both a good user experience and business value. Recently, at its 2015 customer conference Domopalooza, the company presented itself and its products to the general public. I had a chance to meet with company executives, employees and customers and view its products at this high-energy event and entertainment that I have not seen in years.

Read More

Informatica Navigates Carefully to Broader Data Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 16, 2015 1:21:46 AM

This has been a dramatic year for Informatica, a major provider of data integration software. In August it was acquired and taken private by Permira funds and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for about US$5.3 billion. This change was accompanied by shifts in its management. CEO Sohaib Abbasi became chairman and now has left, and many executives were replaced while Anil Chakravathy became CEO from being the Chief Product Officer. The new owners appear to have shifted the company’s strategic priorities to emphasize profitability with reduced headcount and return on the purchase investment. Despite these changes, during the past six months Informatica has made key product announcements that will impact its future and the future of data management.

Read More

Datawatch Bolsters Data Preparation for all Information Assets

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 10, 2015 10:26:30 PM

The need for businesses to process and analyze data has grown in intensity along with the volumes of data they are amassing. Our benchmark research consistently shows that preparing data is the most widespread impediment to analytic and operational efficiency. In our recent research on data and analytics in the cloud, more than half (55%) of organizations said that preparing data for analysis is a major impediment, followed by other preparatory tasks: reviewing data for quality and consistency (48%) and waiting for data and information (28%). Organizations that want to apply analytics to make more effective decisions and take prompt actions need to find ways to shorten the work that comes before it. Conventional analytics and business intelligence tools are not designed for data preparation, but new software tools can enable business users independently or in concert with IT to perform the tasks needed.

Read More

Workforce Management for Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 29, 2015 2:20:22 PM

Historically workforce management has been centered on tracking time and attendance, absences and leaves. Organizations view the time and attendance system as the top priority to integrate with the payroll system; in our payroll management benchmark research half (51%) of organizations called it very important. However, only one in five have integrated the two to streamline processes. So limited an administrative and operational focus does not contribute to improving worker productivity or manager efficiency. Moreover, such an approach can foster employee turnover and undermine worker satisfaction and loyalty. Our research analysis underscores that paying insufficient attention to the worker experience can degrade employees’ sense of accomplishment and in some situations also degrade the customer experience.

Read More

New Generation of Human Resources Management Systems

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 9, 2015 9:21:24 PM

Ventana Research defines a human resources management system (HRMS) as the set of applications and associated processes that store and manage the employee information used by an organization’s human resources department. New technologies make it possible for the HRMS to perform better and be easier to use by HR professionals and members of the workforce. The range of evolving technologies impacting the development of the HRMS include business analytics, big data, cloud computing, mobile technology, business collaboration, social media and wearable computing. These advances enable organizations to streamline the processes that the HRMS supports and more efficiently take advantage of competencies that already exist in the workforce. The changes are so substantive for organizations and their HR departments that we have undertaken new research called Next-Generation Human Resources Management Systems.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

A New Generation of Analytics Offers Help for Sales

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 24, 2015 8:31:32 PM

All lines of business are under pressure to meet targets and deliver expected results, but none is under more pressure than Sales. Like other organizations it must use information to derive insights about progress and problems and to decide what changes to make. Today businesses collect and analyze data from more data sources in more forms than ever before. To understand it they need effective analytics, and again none need it more than Sales.

Read More

SAP is a Factor for HCM Success

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 23, 2015 8:54:19 AM

Maximizing the performance and value of people in the workforce should be a primary focus for any business these days. It is a complex task, especially for larger organizations, and chances for success can be increased by investment in human capital management (HCM) applications. In this competitive software market SAP is making a strong push, aided by acquisitions in the last three years of SuccessFactors for talent management and more recently Fieldglass for contingent labor management. Recently I attended the SAP HCM analyst summit to hear about its direction and plans to grow its market share. The company has made progress since our last analyst perspective on it. Mike Ettling, SAP’s president for the HR line of business, discussed its newly refined strategy and organizational structure; the company has added executives from around the globe to emphasize its commitment to helping human resources organizations.

Read More

The Establishment of Data Preparation

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 21, 2015 12:45:49 AM

Data is an essential ingredient for every aspect of business, and those that use it well are likely to gain advantages over competitors that do not. Our benchmark research on information optimization reveals a variety of drivers for deploying information, most commonly analytics, information access, decision-making, process improvements and customer experience and satisfaction. To accomplish any of these purposes requires that data be prepared through a sequence of steps: accessing, searching, aggregating, enriching, transforming and cleaning data from different sources to cre­ate a single uniform data set. To prepare data properly, businesses need flex­ible tools that enable them to en­rich the context of data drawn from multiple sources, collaborate on its preparation to serve business needs and govern the process of preparation to ensure security and consistency. Users of these tools range from analysts to operations professionals in the lines of business.

Read More

MicroStrategy Powers Up Security for Analytics and BI

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 17, 2015 11:44:00 PM

At its annual MicroStrategy World conference, this provider of analytics and business intelligence systems for business and IT introduced a new version of its flagship product, MicroStrategy 9s. Among many advances it adds enterprise grade security with MicroStrategy Usher as part of the maintenance update to its 9.4.1 release. Security is increasingly critical for analytics and BI. Technologies that work intensively with data, including reporting, business intelligence, analytics and data preparation, have access to a range of applications and databases and could leave gaps in access controls and security of essential business data. Already in 2015 the data breach at Anthem put more than 80 million medical records at risk. Our benchmark research in big data analytics finds that integration into security and user access frameworks is a very important capability to 37 percent of organizations.

Read More

Sales Agenda for Applications and Technology in 2015

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 17, 2015 8:36:29 PM

Most people in business management admit that sales is more an art than a science. Organizations have long struggled to find the right mix to improve its effectiveness, and few get the most out of available technology. For many the default is still to use sales force automation (SFA) and spreadsheets to manage processes and try to increase the productivity of sales staff. In our view they should take a holistic approach to sales processes from contact to close and support everything from sales forecasting to pipeline management to compensation with applications designed for these purposes. Those in sales operations need to apply analytics to understand and fine-tune sales activities. Those in sales management need applications that can help recruit, engage and retain the best talent. Even more than elsewhere in business, in sales people matter, and the organizations that most empower their teams are likely to get the best results. Optimizing people and processes requires a balance of information and technology to support the various needs of the sales organization.

Read More

Big Data Research Agenda and Trends are Bolder in 2015

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 7, 2015 9:46:10 PM

Big data has become a big deal as the technology industry has invested tens of billions of dollars to create the next generation of databases and data processing. After the accompanying flood of new categories and marketing terminology from vendors, most in the IT community are now beginning to understand the potential of big data. Ventana Research thoroughly covered the evolving state of the big data and information optimization sector in 2014 and will continue this research in 2015 and beyond. As it progresses the importance of making big data systems interoperate with existing enterprise and information architecture along with digital transformation strategiesbecomes critical. Done properly companies can take advantage of big data innovations to optimize their established business processes and execute new business strategies. But just deploying big data and applying analytics to understand it is just the beginning. Innovative organizations must go beyond the usual exploratory and root-cause analyses through applied analytic discovery and other techniques. This of course requires them to develop competencies in information management for big data.

Read More

Research Agenda: What Matters for Human Capital Management in 2015

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 5, 2015 8:16:49 PM

Managing investments in people and their performance is critical to every organization. It also is complicated. To support the various aspects of human capital management (HCM), organizations often use a variety of technology including systems for human resource management, talent management, workforce management and payroll management. Often these separate systems use their own information and are not well connected to each other. Today they are deployed both on-premises and in cloud computing environments, which further complicates integration. This situation disrupts processes and challenges HR departments and leaders to invest time and resources to correct it.

Read More

New Generation of Learning Management Systems Delivers Business Value

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 3, 2015 7:57:14 PM

As organizations look to improve the competency and skills of their workers, learning management system (LMS) technology can help improve their efforts. Our latest benchmark research innext-generation learning management systems finds a range of progress in this regard. Our Performance Index analysis places organizations almost evenly between the two lowest (51%) and the two highest (49%) of four levels of performance. The results differ by size of company as measured by number of employees. For example, only 8 percent of small companies reach the highest Innovative level of performance, compared to 26 percent of very large companies, the largest percentage of any size. Analyzed by industry, the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector performs best: Two out of three (65%) are at the top two levels. We attribute this in part to the finance industry’s focus on processes and its need to comply with regulations and teach employees how to do so.

Read More

Research Agenda: Technology Innovation for Business in 2015

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 2, 2015 7:10:13 AM

This year presents much opportunity for organizations to use a new generation of technology to compete better, be more efficient in their business operations and engage their workforces to their full potential. We have identified and begun to track the following next-generation technologies: analytics, big data, collaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media, and in 2014 we added wearable computing to the list. In 2015 we will intensify our focus on all of them specifically in our research agenda and as part of our line of business research agendas.

Read More

Managing Sales Compensation Requires Commitment

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 21, 2015 9:18:08 AM

Sales organizations are under constant pressure to maximize their potential. To accomplish this they need to integrate their people and processes with those of the finance and operations groups and have access to all available information and useful technology. This is particularly true in the area of sales compensation, which when managed properly recognizes accomplishments, rewards success and motivates people. However, we find that few sales organizations take a comprehensive approach to sales compensation management.

Read More

Beqom Simplifies Compensation in Sophisticated Ways

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 15, 2015 10:00:51 AM

It is more important than ever for businesses to attract and retain the best talent, and managing compensation effectively is an essential tool for doing so. Obviously companies must pay well to compete, but managing salary, merit pay, variable pay and incentives for employees, tracking their hiring anniversaries and conducting accurate performance appraisals make total compensation management a complex process. All of this must be managed within budget and policy guidelines. As organizations grow and require more employees, the challenges multiply and the difficulty increases. Our benchmark research finds that inconsistent execution is the top impediment to effective compensation management for nearly half (47%) of organizations. Software designed for this purpose can help.

Read More

Profisee Simplifies Master Data Management

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 8, 2015 7:59:29 AM

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 widely 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.

Read More

Integration of Big Data Involves Challenges

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 31, 2014 10:00:45 AM

Big data has great promise for many organizations today, but they also need technology to facilitate integration of various data stores, as I recently pointed out. Our big data integration benchmark research makes it clear that organizations are aware of the need to integrate big data, but most have yet to address it: In this area our Performance Index analysis, which assesses competency and maturity of organizations, concludes that only 13 percent reach the highest of four levels, Innovative. Furthermore, while many organizations are sophisticated in dealing with the information, they are less able to handle the people-related areas, lacking the right level of training in the skills required to integrate big data. Most said that the training they provide is only somewhat adequate or inadequate.

Read More

Payroll Management Software Rated in 2015 Ventana Research Value Index

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 30, 2014 10:51:40 AM

To help companies improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their payroll management processes, we have assembled our 2015 Value Index for Payroll Management. It evaluates vendors of payroll management software to provide a guide for selecting the right application to suit specific needs. The executive summary is available for download, and this analysis provides a snapshot of the findings. Ventana Research defines payroll management as all activities associated with paying employees correctly and efficiently. This set of processes crosses the human resources and finance functions; deployed properly it provides employees with access to their payroll information as well as improving payroll management effectiveness.

Read More

Big Data Requires Integration Technology

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 7, 2014 5:56:45 AM

The market for big data continues to grow as organizations try to extract business value from their own masses of data and other sources. Earlier this year I outlined the dynamics of the business opportunity for big data and information optimization. We continue to see advances as big data and associated information technologies deliver more value, but the range of innovation also has created fragmentation among existing systems including databases that are managed onpremises or in cloud computing environments. In this changing environment organizations encounter new challenges not only in adapting to technology that is more efficient in automating data processing but also in integrating it into their enterprise architecture. I’ve already explained how big data can be ineffective without integration, and we conducted more in-depth research into the market, resulting in our benchmark research on big data integration, which reveals the state of how organizations are adopting this technology in their processes.

Read More

Salesforce Analytics Cloud Delivers Wave of Elegant Dashboards

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 5, 2014 8:25:12 AM

At this year's Dreamforce more than 140,000 people gathered in San Francisco to share the excitement about the use of technology for business. Salesforce.com’s annual conference has reached megashow status, which is a mixed blessing: Dreamforce remains social in its design, but it has become impersonal due to its size. In any case Salesforce had plenty to show off. The company has continued to enhance its cloud-based business applications for sales and customer service, and in the last year it has added marketing through acquisitions. It also has advanced the attraction of its cloud computing platform; even IT departments see its approach as a simple way to use and build applications, especially mobile ones which the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets have made critical to business. Cloud computing is becoming the defacto approach for new applications and software for business and now IT, and its importance continues to grow: Our benchmark research on business technology innovation shows that it is important or very important to more than half (57%) of organizations. At Dreamforce, Salesforce announced Salesforce1 Lightning (available in 2015), a way to assemble mobile applications that can operate across platforms. Salesforce makes the technical details of the mobile platform transparent and facilitates assembly of mobile applications.

Read More

Oracle Provides Cloud Platform and Applications for Everyone in Sales

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 4, 2014 9:13:46 PM

At 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.

Read More

The Future of Integrating ERP and Applications in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 30, 2014 9:23:41 PM

In recent years line-of-business applications including accounting, human resources, manufacturing, sales and customer service have appeared in the cloud. Cloud -based software as a service (SaaS) has replaced on-premises applications that were previously part of ERP and CRM environments. They have helped companies become more efficient but have also introduced interoperability challenges between business processes. Their advantage is that cloud software can be rented, configured and used within a day or week. The disadvantage is that they don’t always connect with one another seamlessly, as they used to and when managed by a third party there is limited connectivity to integrate them.

Read More

Teradata Takes Bigger Approach to Big Data

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 17, 2014 9:17:38 AM

Teradata continues to expand its information management and analytics technology for big data to meet growing demand. My analysis last year discussed Teradata’s approach to big data in the context of its distributed computing and data architecture. I recently got an update on the company’s strategy and products at the annual Teradata analyst summit. Our big data analytics research finds that a broad approach to big data is wise: Three-quarters of organizations want analytics to access data from all sources and not just one specific to big data. This inclusive approach is what Teradata as designed its architectural and technological approach in managing the access, storage and use of data and analytics.

Read More

Xactly Delivers New Inspiration for Sales to Maximize its Potential

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 9, 2014 11:22:25 AM

In an analyst perspective at the beginning of this year I wrote that sales organizations must step beyond conventional wisdom to generate the best outcomes. One such step is to invest in software that delivers immediate value to manage sales and be efficient in its operations. Our latest research on sales organizations finds that inconsistent execution (53%), scattered information (48%) and limited visibility (42%) are motivating investment to improve sales. At CompCloud, its annual conference, Xactly unveiled advances in its software to help improve the effectiveness and productivity of sales organizations. Spokespeople said the company’s sales compensation products have helped users manage US$10 billion in commissions in the past two years.

Read More

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.

Read More

Pitney Bowes Brings New Software for Better Business Insights

Posted by Mark Smith on May 19, 2014 10:17:25 AM

I recently attended the 2014 global analyst summit in San Francisco hosted by Pitney Bowes, an old technology company (now in business for 94 years) that has a new focus in its software along with an entirely new executive team. These leaders unveiled a business and technology strategy meant to demonstrate the company’s commitment to software. For many years it has been known mostly for mail services and postage metering, but Pitney Bowes also has made investments in software that can help companies change their business processes by optimizing their information assets. Over the past few years the company has had its ups and downs as regards its corporate mission, as I wrote in 2012. Most of the turmoil was due to conflicting agendas from past management, but other factors were the company was not as clear in communicating the value of its combined software portfolio and not capitalizing on the demand in lines of business and IT for information management and analytics software.

Read More

Qvidian Helps Sales Optimize Execution

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 23, 2014 10:02:20 AM

Few sales organizations realize their full potential, partly because they don’t execute well. We urge organizations to move beyond conventional wisdom in how they think about executing sales processes and have placed methods for making improvement to sales execution at the center of our research on sales in 2014. In our recent research on sales forecasting almost half (44%) of sales organizations said they have impediments that are motivating management to consider further investment in sales technology, and the most common of those is inconsistent execution (for 53%). Many sales organizations don’t use training in a consistent manner and fail to automate processes to gain efficiency.

Read More

Successful Sales Forecasting Requires Dedicated Technology

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 23, 2014 9:44:02 AM

Sales forecasting is an essential process for most businesses. It helps guide the efforts not only of the sales function but also of finance, operations, manufacturing and customer service. Our recently released sales forecasting benchmark research reveals significant insights and best practices that can help companies optimize the effectiveness of this process. I recently wrote that most sales organizations need to make significant changes to the way they do sales forecasting. In that analyst perspective, I examined aspects of technology that can make sales forecasting a much more efficient process than it is in most organizations that use software not designed for sales forecasting.

Read More

Equifax Delivers Insightful Analytics for Compliance with Affordable Care Act

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 9, 2014 2:56:03 AM

Pressure to comply with requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a looming challenge for most organizations today. Many go through numerous manual iterations such as running reports and compiling data into spreadsheets from benefits, payroll and HR systems to calculate whether their employees are eligible. As my colleague Stephan Millard explains in “Is Your Organization Technology Ready for the Affordable Care Act?”, the ACA applies to organizations with 50 or more full-time employees who work more than 30 hours a week; individuals not covered by an employer can get insurance through the government. There are a great many details for employers to address in the ACA, and most HR departments lack a smooth process and effective technology to generate the information to determine compliance.

Read More

Technology Makes a Difference for Location Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 1, 2014 12:48:46 AM

Our latest benchmark research into the market for location analytics software finds significant demand for location-related technology that can improve business outcomes and generate relevant information for various types of users. (Location analytics is an extension of business analytics that can enhance the sophistication of data and processes by adding a geographic context.)  My last analyst perspective on this topic discussed the business value of insights based on geography and what organizations are doing to advance their efforts here. Our research also shows, however, that most still lack satisfaction and confidence in using the technology. Just 12 percent of all participants said they are very satisfied with the location information and analytics available in their organization. Further analysis shows that satisfaction increases with use of a dedicated application for location analytics: 71 percent of those are satisfied or very satisfied, substantially more than those using location analytics within a BI tool (22%); findings are similar for both B2B and B2C use. We find similar levels of confidence in the quality of location information: 15 percent of those using a dedicated application are very confident in their location analytics. Confidence in the reliability of such information is essential to more organizations adopting location analytics.

Read More

Cloudera Makes Hadoop a Big Player in Big Data

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 24, 2014 9:09:43 PM

I had the pleasure of attending Cloudera’s recent analyst summit. Presenters reviewed the work the company has done since its founding six years ago and outlined its plans to use Hadoop to further empower big data technology to support what I call information optimization. Cloudera’s executive team has the co-founders of Hadoop who worked at Facebook, Oracle and Yahoo when they developed and used Hadoop. Last year they brought in CEO Tom Reilly, who led successful organizations at ArcSight, HP and IBM. Cloudera now has more than 500 employees, 800 partners and 40,000 users trained in its commercial version of Hadoop. The Hadoop technology has brought to the market an integration of computing, memory and disk storage; Cloudera has expanded the capabilities of this open source software for its customers through unique extension and commercialization of open source for enterprise use. The importance of big data is undisputed now: For example, our latest research in big data analytics finds it to be very important in 47 percent of organizations. However, we also find that only 14 percent are very satisfied with their use of big data, so there is plenty of room for improvement. How well Cloudera moves forward this year and next will determine its ability to compete in big data over the next five years.

Read More

Oracle Has Sunny Forecast for Cloud Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 20, 2014 9:36:09 AM

At Oracle’s recent cloud computing analyst summit in sunny Palm Springs, the company’s executive team insisted that it sees clear skies for its efforts in cloud computing. The summit was led by senior executive Thomas Kurian, who runs the entire product organization and reports directly to CEO Larry Ellison. He affirmed that Oracle intends to offer the full range of cloud computing – public, private and hybrid models – to its customers and partners. As one of the world’s largest software suppliers Oracle has much at stake to make its database and all tools and applications available in these cloud environments, including managed cloud services. Our business technology innovation research shows this is a smart bet. Cloud computing is important or very important to 57 percent of organizations, and more than half (55%) of cloud users have been using it for more than a year. I noted in 2013 that simplifying IT and innovating in business are key to its software strategy, and Oracle’s efforts since then have executed on this outline.

Read More

SAS Unifies Big Data for Business and IT

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 12, 2014 6:45:57 AM

Many businesses are close to being overwhelmed by the unceasing growth of data they must process and analyze to find insights that can improve their operations and results. To manage this big data they find a rapidly expanding portfolio of technology products. A significant vendor in this market is SAS Institute. I recently attended the company’s annual analyst summit, Inside Intelligence 2014 (Twitter Hashtag #SASSB). SAS reported more than $3 billion in software revenue for 2013 and is known globally for its analytics software. Recently it has become a more significant presence in data management as well. SAS provides applications for various lines of business and industries in areas as diverse as fraud prevention, security, customer service and marketing. To accomplish this it applies analytics to what is now called big data, but the company has many decades of experience in dealing with large volumes of data. Recently SAS set a goal to be the vendor of choice for the analytic, data and visualization software needs for Hadoop. To achieve this aggressive goal the company will have to make significant further investments in not only its products but also marketing and sales. Our benchmark research on big data analytics shows that three out of four (76%) organizations view big data analytics as analyzing data from all sources, not just one, which sets the bar high for vendors seeking to win their business.

Read More

Location Analytics Delivers Geographic Insights

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 3, 2014 8:54:04 PM

Adding geographic and location context to business information enables organizations to develop fuller understanding and optimize the activities of people that use the information. We call this location intelligence, and to achieve it requires location analytics, which focus on that context where the processing and presentation of geography and spatial aspects of data are utilized. Analysis of geographic information can provide business insights that help organizations make better business decisions. I have written about this new generation of location analytics previously and noted that it can provide fresh analytic perspectives on information collected and integrated from in-house applications and across the Internet.

Read More

The Sales Forecast Requires Commitment not Status Quo

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 27, 2014 8:03:07 AM

In today’s highly competitive sales environment, where success depends on meeting the specific needs of buyers, an accurate and timely sales forecast is a critical tool for optimizing business outcomes. I discussed this as part of our 2014 research agenda for sales, noting that linking the forecast to commissions, quotas and territories is a requirement for success. We recently completed new benchmark research on sales forecasting to ascertain the state of the processes and technology sales organizations use. This research continues to find less than adequate efforts by organizations to improve their sales forecasting process and insufficient information about the full revenue potential from accounts and customers.

Read More

Wearable Computing is in Fashion and Ready for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 26, 2014 7:30:55 AM

In the near future, technology will be something we wear or attach comfortably to our bodies. Wearable computers have been evolving for some time, and while that might seem futuristic to the uninformed, in the technology industry it is rapidly becoming real. This trend is important for businesses to note, as our business technology innovation research shows that it is very important to more than half (56%) of organizations to find methods to use technology innovation to support both business processes and their people. Mobile technology is the third-most important innovative technology, after analytics and collaboration, and innovators will use all three together. Many organizations focus on acquiring and retaining the best possible workforce, which after all is their most valuable asset.

Read More

Oracle Modernizes HR with Mobile and Wearable Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 22, 2014 6:43:03 AM

At Oracle’s first-ever HCM World conference, the technology company demonstrated its commitment to human resources customers, explaining its strategy for Modern HR in the Cloud, which is focused on meeting the needs of employees in a large, dispersed workforce. The conference was insightful both intellectually and practically in its discussions of how workforces are changing. Oracle also showed its commitment by having both President Mark Hurd and CEO Larry Ellison present keynotes. This was the first time both have addressed a conference other than the flagship Oracle OpenWorld. It is worth watching the replays of their talks, which reveal the company’s motivation and investment in human capital management (HCM). In developing its HCM products Oracle has in mind multigenerational workforces that require software that is adaptable to people, competencies and new technologies such as mobile devices and social collaboration and recognizes the imperative to access workforce information and analytics immediately. The rebranded Oracle HCM Cloud Service has gained significant momentum, as my colleague Stephan Millard pointed out in his recent analysis of Oracle’s HCM portfolio. Taking a global approach it supports users in 196 countries, 34 languages and multiple currencies and operates entirely in a cloud environment.

Read More

MicroStrategy Reveals New Generation of Analytics for Cloud and Mobile Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 18, 2014 8:18:32 AM

At its recent MicroStrategy World 2014 conference, the enterprise software company introduced a portfolio of products to make it easier to perform analytics and make them easier to access through the cloud and mobile forms of computing. These announcements accelerate MicroStrategy’s transition to approaching corporate business users of analytics from its past focus on business intelligence, which typically is purchased by IT. This is a subtle but strategic shift that recognizes where growth opportunities lie and that analytics must be available on any device at any time. MicroStrategy made it clear that advances in the cloud, mobility and big data were integral to its product releases last year and is continuing in this direction in 2014 with the products in its MicroStrategy 9.4 suite.

Read More

The Challenge for Sales in 2014: Stepping Beyond Conventional Wisdom

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 31, 2014 8:46:26 AM

It should be no surprise for those who work in sales that increasing outcomes collectively is not always easy. Sales teams and individuals work under pressure to perform at high levels, selling more than they did in the previous period or more than the person who previously had responsibility for a territory. Today’s economic and competitive environments demand that everyone work not just faster but smarter in their sales efforts. To excel in this environment requires not just wise use of time but prioritization of the activities and tasks that contribute to achieving the quota and forecast. In the past, sales organizations often resisted adopting new technology, but it’s time for them to realize that tools are available to facilitate better sales performance. As I outlined in the overview of our business and technology research agenda for this year, the sales department has a ripe opportunity to get smarter in how it operates. This is the essential point of our research practice in sales applications and technology: Our methodical benchmark research examines applications and technology best practices and benefits for sales organizations, and we assess the vendors and products in this market through our Value Index ratings. We will start 2014 with the latest release of our Value Index on Sales Performance Management, which will help sales management evaluate products to assist in improving performance of the organization.

Read More

Big Data Offers Business Opportunity for Information Optimization in 2014

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 27, 2014 9:10:32 AM

Businesses are always looking for ways to grow and to streamline their operations. These two goals can come into conflict because as organizations become larger it becomes more complicated to be agile and efficient. To help them understand and modify their processes, businesses can derive insights from analytics applied to their data. Today that data is available not only in the enterprise and cloud computing environments but also from the Internet. To collect, process and analyze it all is a challenge, one that an increasing number of organizations are meeting through the use of big data technologies. The resulting insights can help them make strategic business decisions such as where to focus efforts and how to engage with customers. At Ventana Research we have been working hard to understand the advancing technology that supports big data and its value through information optimization and bring clarity to the industry through our research and analysis of trends and products. There are many opinions about big data and fixation on the attributes of it through the V’s (volume, variety and velocity) and how to use it, often biased toward one technology or vendor; our research and analysis of the entire market cuts through the noise to provide not just facts but insights on best practices and methods to apply this technology to business problems.

Read More

IBM Bets a Billion to Mobilize Watson Business Unit and Monetize Cognitive Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 13, 2014 8:04:48 AM

With much fanfare and a rarely seen introduction by CEO Ginni Rometty, IBM launched IBM Watson as a new business unit focused on cognitive computing technology and solutions, now being led by Senior Vice President Mike Rhodin. The announcement is summarized here:. Until now IBM Watson was important but had neither this stature in IBM’s organizational structure nor enough investment to support what the company proclaims is the third phase of computing. As IBM tells it, computing paradigms began with the century-old tabular computing, followed by the age of programmatic computing, in which IBM developed many products and advancements. The third phase is cognitive computing, an area in which the company has invested significantly to advance its technology. IBM has been on this journey for some time, long before the IBM Watson system beat humans on Jeopardy!. Its machine-learning efforts started with the IBM 704 and computer checkers in the 1950s, followed by decades of utilizing the computing power of the IBM 360 mainframe, the IBM AS/400, the IBM RS/6000 and even IBM XT computers in the 1980s. Now IBM Watson is focused on reaching the full potential of cognitive computing.

Read More

Research Agendas for 2014: Optimizing the Use of Technology for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 8, 2014 7:50:02 AM

Greetings, everyone, and best wishes for a great start to 2014. In this new year, utilizing best practices and skills learned in 2013 will be critical for optimizing the use of efforts to support both business and IT. In 2013 many organizations made progress in balancing technology decisions across business and IT as the lines of business continued to take leading roles in investment and prioritization. Major investments were made in business applications using software as a service, business analytics and mobile computing applications. In some other areas of innovation, particularly big data and social collaboration, deployments are just beginning to happen and a significant amount of projects are in experimental and proof of concept than enterprise use.

Read More

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.

Read More

Ventana Research Technology Innovation Awards Are More Than Cool

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 31, 2013 1:33:58 AM

In the realm of technology that matters for business and IT, our firm as part of our responsibility continually assesses the latest technology and how it can impact organizations’ efficiency and effectiveness. Our benchmark research in technology innovation found that 87% of participants indicated the importance of increasing the organization’s value through technology innovation. Every year we take our knowledge from research and technology briefings to focus on our Technology Innovation Awards and determine the vendors and products that have the potential to drive change in the market, the competitiveness of an organization’s business and sometimes just how efficiently a company operates. Our firm believes that Innovation can come from any size technology vendor from the smallest to the largest that are measured on a spectrum of attributes that contribute to the specific impact of the technology.

Read More

Rationalizing the Tyranny of Visual Anarchy

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 28, 2013 9:42:27 AM

It has become evident from the advancements we’ve seen in the business analytics market that the use of visualization is now becoming mainstream. In my analysis of the market last year I wrote about the pathetic state of dashboards, where the assumption in the business intelligence software industry is that placing four to six charts or tables of data in a screen and publishing to business users can create business intelligence. That assumption has yet to be proven and is completely irrational, as presenting analytics in basic charts does little to provide context and a guide for taking actions and making decisions.

Read More

Cisco to Foster Smarter Network of Data by Acquiring Composite Software

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 21, 2013 12:50:35 PM

Cisco Systems has announced its intent to acquire Composite Software, which provides data virtualization to help IT departments interconnect data and systems; the purchase is scheduled to complete in early August. Cisco of course is known for its ability to interconnect just about anything with its networking technology; this acquisition will help it connect data better across networks. Over the last decade Composite had been refining the science of virtualizing data but had reached the peak of what it could do by itself, struggling to grow enough to meet the expectations of its investors, board of directors, employees, the market and visionary CEO Jim Green, who is well-known for his long commitment to improving data and technology architectures. According to press reports on the Internet, Cisco paid $180 million for Composite, which if true would be a good reward for people who have worked at Composite for some time and who were substantive shareholders.

Read More

Datawatch Acquires Panopticon for Big Data Discovery and Visualization across Business Processes

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 20, 2013 9:31:17 AM

Business analytics can help organizations use data to find insights that lead to new opportunities and address issues unrecognized before. One player in this market is Datawatch, known for its tools for information optimization and harvesting value from big data including content and documents. I assessed the company earlier this year, and recently our firm recognized its customers’ achievements with 2013 Ventana Research Leadership Awards for Information Optimization with Phelps County Regional Medical Center and Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) with The Fauquier Bank.

Read More

Informatica Has New Vibe for Information Optimization

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 14, 2013 12:20:16 PM

Information management is important to every line of business that seeks to improve its business processes and decision-making. In response to pressure from those departments, CIOs and IT organizations must examine whether they have focused enough on the I for information and not just the T for technology, and if they have not, commit to taking this responsibility more seriously than in the past. Informatica is one vendor that realizes the potential of its information beyond just data integration, and this is reflected in its expanded product portfolio and position in the market over the last several years. Our firm has taken note of companies gaining value from using Informatica; we awarded our 2013 CIO Leadership Award to George Brenckle of UMass Memorial Health Care for his work to maximize the value of information assets through managing data innovatively. Informatica itself has enhanced its position by introducing its new brand and a new CMO and demonstrating commitment to change from its executive leadership team at the company’s recent 2013 user conference. The focus of the brand now is on helping business and IT find the full value of their information.

Read More

Anaplan Innovates Business Modeling and Planning

Posted by Mark Smith on May 29, 2013 11:07:43 AM

Anaplan’s software is designed to help organizations across finance, sales and operations improve accuracy, timeliness and collaboration in their business analytics and planning. I recently attended the company’s first user conference, Hub 2013, in San Francisco, which featured customer success stories and latest on product information. Anaplan has built its business on the subtleties of modeling and planning that are shared between sales, operations and finance departments, and it enables them to apply analytics to projections in revenue, sales, forecasting, territory planning, commissions, quotas and profitability – areas that are intertwined through many business processes. Anaplan’s team has more than decades of experience in the analytics and planning software markets that has led to its devised cloud-based, in-memory computing software.

Read More

Xactly Makes Objectives the Incentive for Improvement

Posted by Mark Smith on May 25, 2013 11:40:56 PM

Sales organizations and individuals strive to reach their quotas and get paid the maximum commissions for their performance. In support of these goals, software vendor Xactly offers a suite of applications for sales performance management that operates in the cloud computing environment. An example of its success is receiving our recent 2013 Leadership Award in sales excellence for work by its customer Zuora. This achievement builds on its 2012 Leadership Award with customer GlobalEnglishMy last analysis of Xactly discussed its applications running on mobile technology including the Apple iPad, which answers the needs of sales people who prefer to use mobile technology. Xactly signed its 500th customer in late 2012, a milestone demonstrating its adoption by companies looking to improve sales.

Read More

SAP HANA is Technology Platform of Choice for SAP

Posted by Mark Smith on May 21, 2013 10:05:53 AM

At this year’s annual SAP user conference, SAPPHIRE, the technology giant showed advances in its cloud and in-memory computing efforts. It has completed the migration of its conventional application suite and portfolio of tools to operate on SAP HANA, its in-memory computing platform, and made improvements in its cloud computing environment, SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. The last time I analyzed SAP HANA was when it won our firm’s 2012 Overall IT Technology Innovation Award. Now HANA has been transitioned from just a database technology into a broad platform. SAP wisely consolidated its efforts previously known as SAP NetWeaver into SAP HANA. This resolves some confusion regarding HANA and NetWeaver in the cloud, which I assessed. The recently announced SAP HANA Platform now provides the enterprise class of HANA implementation in the cloud. It comes with a trial edition of the data and visual discovery technology now called SAP Lumira, whose price has been reduced to encourage adoption (and which I discuss more below). The use of in-memory databases for big data is accelerating: According to our technology innovation research, 22 percent of organizations are planning to use this technology over the next two years, and through 2015 it will have a higher growth rate than other approaches.

Read More

Teradata Brings In-Memory Computing and Data Discovery to Big Data

Posted by Mark Smith on May 8, 2013 11:19:41 PM

Teradata recently gave me a technology update and a peek into the future of its portfolio for big data, information management and business analytics at its annual technology influencer summit. The company continues to innovate and build upon its Teradata 14 releases and its new processing technology. Since my last analysis of Teradata’s big data strategy, it has embraced technologies like Hadoop with its Teradata Aster Appliance, which won our 2012 Technology Innovation Award in Big Data. Teradata is steadily extending beyond providing just big data technology to offer a range of analytic options and appliances through advances in Teradata Aster and its overall data and analytic architectures. One example is its data warehouse appliance business, which according to our benchmark research is one of the key technological approaches to big data; as well Teradata has advanced support with its own technology offering for in-memory databases, specialized databases and Hadoop in one integrated architecture. It is taking an enterprise management approach to these technologies through Teradata Viewpoint, which helps monitor and manage systems and support a more distributed computing architecture.

Read More

Four Types of Discovery Technology For Using Big Data Intelligently

Posted by Mark Smith on May 7, 2013 9:42:17 AM

Information technology for business is changing rapidly as organizations demand innovation to help them discover insights and facts. Our research into business technology innovation found analytics to be the top priority in 39 percent of organizations. Businesses feel pressure to be better, faster and smarter in operating processes, and understanding their various types of information is a key to success. Businesses are looking to capture value from all types of information both within the enterprise and on the Internet. In this context technology providers are now using the term “discovery” to capture potential buyers’ attention; it became an area for technology spending in 2012 and likely will be for years to come. In fact my colleague Tony Cosentino has identified discovery as one of the four pillars of big data analytics.

Read More

Oracle Aims To Simplify IT and Innovate Your Business

Posted by Mark Smith on May 1, 2013 12:11:30 PM

I was recently at Oracle Analyst World which is the vendor’s annual gathering of technology industry analysts. Its executives and others in the products organization deliver the latest news on where the titan is focusing efforts to expand its technology and markets. This year, against the background of the consumer and business markets embracing mobile and cloud computing, Oracle is working to sound like a more friendly supplier that can help remove legacy issues and inefficiencies that plague CIOs and data centers. Oracle also used this forum to attract IT departments to the technology advances it has made across its deep and broad portfolio of products. Oracle has more than 3,900 software products and more than 3,000 software patents that indicate its significant investment in R&D. Now the company is beginning to release improved products more frequently, which most customers now expect from technology vendors.

Read More

Datawatch Enables a New Generation of Information Optimization

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 5, 2013 11:42:57 AM

When organizations need to optimize their business processes and improve operations and decisions, the often speak of having the right information at the right time, but don’t always make that a priority. This information optimization is often thought to be expensive and time-consuming, especially with advent of big data and disparate data sources across cloud and on-premises environments, as I have articulated. Datawatch can help business get to information of any variety or volume at any time through its access and integration tools. When I published my last analysis of Datawatch, it had made significant advancements in its platform, with enterprise-class reliability and support for business analytics through its data discovery and virtualization processes. Over the last year Datawatch continued to grow its business worldwide, and through investments into its marketing, sales and product efforts is finding more potential from existing and new customers. The company’s energized product efforts earned it our 2012 Technology Innovation Award for Information Applications for its Information Optimization Suite.

Read More

Businesses Can Turn to Scribe for Integration in the Cloud Anytime

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 5, 2013 11:07:24 AM

Businesses continue to try to increase productivity and simplify tasks in order to use their time smarter. Our recent business technology innovation research found that, when it comes to analytics, 44 percent of organizations spend the most time on data-related tasks. With lack of resources being the largest issue impeding the adoption of technology, IT must operate efficiently while getting business the data it needs on a timely basis. Scribe Solutions has a business-centric data integration solution that operates in the cloud. Over the last 15 years Scribe has accumulated more than 12,000 customers worldwide that span from Fortune 500 to midsize to small organizations. Scribe enables business to access marketing and sales data (part of CRM) like that in Microsoft Dynamics. It has built a strong presence indirectly and through Microsoft partners; it claims to have more than 1,000 partners, and has been expanding efforts to broaden its position by supporting a range of data sources, including Salesforce.com.  Scribe focuses on what I call information optimization, providing value from information management investments, as I outlined in our research agenda.

Read More

Tidemark Leads New Wave of Innovation in Planning and Performance Excellence

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 29, 2013 11:36:35 AM

Organizations succeed through continuous planning to achieve high levels of performance. For most organizations planning is not an easy process to conduct. Planning software is typically designed for only a few people in the process, such as analysts, or organizations might use spreadsheets, which are not designed for business planning across an organization. Most technologies only allow you to examine the past and not plan for the future. For decades organizations have tried to focus planning on driving better results through higher participation, but they have usually failed, as technology has not advanced enough to support this business need.

Read More

Business Leads the Way to Cloud Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 27, 2013 8:53:30 AM

Cloud computing has given business a new way to improve the effectiveness of business processes and ultimately the outcomes of their efforts. In the last five years, business across marketing, customer service, sales, human resources, finance and other areas have embraced the practice of renting access to the applications and technology they need when they need them. Organizations’ use of operational expense budgets helps them get what they need and avoid IT politics or standards that impeded their agility.

Read More

The Big Deal with Big Data is More Valuable with Kapow

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 21, 2013 11:15:38 AM

Using information from applications and services across both the enterprise and Internet just got simpler with Kapow Software and the announced release of Kapow Enterprise 9.2. I examined the technology at the Kapow WoW user conference, and spoke with a broad range of companies that use Kapow.

Read More

Vitria Brings Power of Big Data and Business Analytics to Operational Intelligence

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 17, 2013 11:30:44 PM

For almost two decades, Vitria has been harvesting data across networks and systems and using events to drive operational intelligence using the science of complex event processing (CEP). The company won the 2012 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award in the category of Operational Intelligence for KPI Builder, and in past years its customer TXU Energy won our Leadership Award. Last year my colleague Richard Snow assessed how Vitria uses big data from sources inside and outside the enterprise to enable timely action across the organization. Vitria can parse big data in motion across the network through its correlation, workflow and analytic architecture and compare it with historical data to provide insights for those responsible for taking action.

Read More

SAS Makes Analytics Pay Dividends for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 15, 2013 9:18:41 AM

I recently attended the annual SAS analyst summit to hear the latest company, product and customer growth news from the multi-billion-dollar analytics software provider. This global giant continues to grow its business and solutions to help with fraud prevention, marketing and risk. It lets users apply its analytic and statistical technology in practical applications for business. SAS can meet midsized businesses’ demand with packaging and pricing to ensure it is not seen as only affordable to Global 2000 companies. SAS’ growth in analytics should be no surprise, as our research finds analytics to be the first-ranked priority among technologies for innovating business.

Read More

Informatica Establishes Order from Information Chaos

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 11, 2013 4:06:35 PM

I recently attended the annual Informatica analyst summit to get the latest on that company’s strategy and plans. The data integration provider offers a portfolio of information management software that supports today’s big data and information optimization needs. Informatica is busy making changes in its presentation to the market and its marketing and sales efforts. New executives, including new CMO Marge Breya, are working to communicate what is possible with Informatica’s product portfolio, and it’s more than just data integration.

Read More

Information Optimization is a Key Benefit of Big Data Investments

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 8, 2013 10:25:55 AM

Data is a commodity in business. To become useful information, data must be put into a specific business context. Without information, today’s businesses can’t function. Without the right information, available to the right people at the right time, an organization cannot make the right decisions nor take the right actions, nor compete effectively and prosper. Information must be crafted and made available to employees, customers, suppliers, partners and consumers in the forms they want it at the moments they must have it. Optimizing information in this manner is essential to business success. Yet I see organizations today focusing on investments in big data because they believe it can effortlessly bring analysts insights. That premise is incorrect.

Read More

EMC Looks to Be Pivotal for Big Data

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 6, 2013 6:42:39 AM

The big-data landscape just got a little more interesting with the release of EMC’s Pivotal HD distribution of HadoopPivotal HD takes Apache Hadoop and extends it with a data loader and command center capabilities to configure, deploy, monitor and manage Hadoop. Pivotal HD, from EMC’s Pivotal Labs division, integrates with Greenplum Database, a massively parallel processing (MPP) database from EMC’s Greenplum division, and uses HDFS as the storage technology. The combination should help sites gain from big data a key part of its value in information optimization.

Read More

SnapLogic is Making Big Data Integration as a Service a Hadoop Reality

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 1, 2013 10:11:12 AM

SnapLogic, a provider of data integration in the cloud, this week announced Big Data-as-a-Service to address businesses’ needs to integrate and process data across Hadoop big data environments. As our research agenda for 2013 outlines, dealing with data in the cloud is very important to organizations. At the same time, businesses need to be able to integrate their big data with all their technology assets, as I pointed out recently.

Read More

Hortonworks Takes Hadoop to the Windows of Microsoft

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 1, 2013 7:13:18 AM

Business is starting to realize that taking advantage of big data is not just technically feasible but affordable by organizations of all sizes. However, as outlined in our agenda on big data and information optimization, the technology must be engineered to the information needs of business. Hortonworks has been steadily advancing its big data technology called Hadoop and contributing its developments back to the Apache Software Foundation for a range of projects. The company performs enterprise-level testing to ensure Hadoop not just operates but scales across operating systems, cloud computing, virtual machines and appliances. Over the last year Hortonworks has released a number of certifications and benchmarks for an enterprise-ready version of Hadoop for which it provides support and services. These are important steps forward in meeting the needs of IT management, which is the audience evaluating big data technologies in 66 percent of organizations according to our big data research.

Read More

Big Data is Broken Without Integration

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 21, 2013 5:33:04 PM

Big data involves interplay between different data management approaches and business intelligence and operational systems, which makes it imperative that all sources of business data be integrated efficiently and that organizations be able to easily adapt to new data types and sources. Our recent big data benchmark research confirmed that big data storagetechnologies continue to follow many approaches, including appliances, Hadoop, and in-memory and specialized DBMSes. With the variety, velocity and volume of big data being part of today’s information architecture, and the potential for big data to be a source to feed other systems, integration should be a top priority.

Read More

Big Data Search is Getting Better with LucidWorks

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 20, 2013 4:52:04 PM

LucidWorks addresses the growing volume of information now being stored in the enterprise and in big data with two products aimed at the enterprise with search technology. Though you may not be familiar with LucidWorks (previously known as Lucid Imagination), the company has for many years contributed to Apache Lucene, an open source search project, and commercialized and supported for it for business.

Read More

Why Business Intelligence Software is Failing Business

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 15, 2013 4:29:16 PM

Business intelligence software is supposed to help businesses access and analyze data and communicate analytics and metrics. I have witnessed improvements to BI software over the years, from mobile and collaboration to interactive discovery and visualization, and our Value Index for Business Intelligence finds a mature set of technology vendors and products. But even as these products mature in capabilities, the majority lack features that would make them easy to use.  Our recent research on next-generation business intelligence found that usability is the most important evaluation criteria for BI technology, outpacing functionality (49%) and even manageability (47%). The pathetic state of dashboards and the stupidity of KPI illustrate some of the obvious ways the software needs to improve for businesses to gain the most value from it. We need smarter business intelligence, and that means not just more advanced sets of capabilities that are designed for the analysts, but software designed for those who need to use BI information.

Read More

New Generation of Location Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 14, 2013 9:17:19 AM

Business analytics have become mainstream in most organizations. Our latest research in technology innovation found analytics was the top-ranked technology in 39 percent of organizations. To deepen the sophistication of their analytics, businesses can add geographic context and maps to business intelligence applications to create what we call location intelligence. Applications and tools with a geographic and spatial context can help deliver new and deeper insights to business. Information about location or geography can improve the quality of actions, decisions and responses to opportunities, and enable organizations to understand more about their customers. It also can help companies gain critical business insights, make better decisions and optimize performance and processes. It can benefit marketing, customer acquisition and retention efforts; logistics and supply chain management; and financial and operational decisions, especially about where to place retail outlets, business assets and people in various functions.

Read More

Pitney Bowes Advances Spectrum for Information Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 12, 2013 8:24:32 AM

Managing data efficiently across the enterprise continues to be a large challenge for both business units and IT. Organizations need data supplied in a consistent format and timely manner to help manage their activities and processes, but some do not look beyond conventional approaches to improvement. Today’s large volumes of data make it more difficult to understand the relationships among data and the role of location-related data. Our 2012 benchmark research on information management found that most organizations need to advance their data initiatives and take steps to integrate them.

Read More

Splunk Provides Operational Intelligence in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 8, 2013 3:37:11 PM

Splunk’s innovated ability to access and use machine data for targeted operational insights can help improve IT and enhance business operational efficiency. Its work to capitalize on big data was part of my last analysis, while my colleague Tony Cosentino looked at its focus on search and operational analytics. Splunk also was a recipient of the 2012 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award for IT Performance for Splunk Enterprise.

Read More

IBM Provokes Social Collaboration and Smarter Workforce Revolution

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 31, 2013 4:05:26 PM

IBM held its 20th annual IBM Connect conference (previously known as Lotusphere) as part of its IBM Social Business efforts at the end of January. The conference focuses on business and social collaboration technology, which our business technology innovation research found to be the second-ranked priority for business innovation. At the conference IBM made a series of significant announcements, including a new version of its social collaboration suite, IBM Connections, and the ability to use the software on a cloud computing platform.

Read More

Technology Innovation in 2013 is a Business and IT Priority

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 29, 2013 10:35:02 AM

The proper use of technology enables businesses to be more efficient. Our recent research into technology for business innovation found that 56 percent indicate innovative technology is very important, yet only 9 percent are very satisfied with theirs, showing plenty of room for improvement. As we enter 2013, businesses have more choices than ever for technology to improve business and IT. Our firm has identified six key technologies that give organizations significant competitive advantages: big data, business analytics, business and social collaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media. Our research agenda for 2013 is designed to help organizations assess and analyze these technologies and make the best possible decisions.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Happy New Year: Build on Foundation of Lessons Learned in 2012

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 4, 2013 2:10:51 PM

Happy New Year to all my readers and followers. I hope everyone has gotten some rest and is ready for a great 2013. 2012 was a busy year in which we saw a critical inflection point, where an elevated focus on new methods and innovative technological approaches such as big data, business analytics, business and social collaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media become part of the mainstream business and IT dialogue. These technologies are beginning to be part of or embedded into enterprise software that will be available in 2013. This is a critical step forward that will help organizations become more efficient in their operations and use technology to its fullest. As we start the new year, I thought a reflection back on the some of the highlights from 2012 was in order.

Read More

Equifax Workforce Solutions for Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 14, 2012 11:58:44 AM

Businesses need to simplify HR and compliance processes to save time and reduce risk. Talx, which helps employers address concerns in hiring, pay and compliance, has now assumed the name of its parent company and become Equifax Workforce Solutions [PDF]. HR and finance professionals should recognize the parent company’s brand from its work in the consumer credit industry. The company hopes these professionals will see that Equifax Workforce Solutions offers a better approach to governance, risk and compliance. According to our research, 79 percent of organizations want a better method to identify and manage risks faster.

Read More

IBM Watson Advances a New Category of Cognitive Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 11, 2012 10:42:33 AM

IBM Watson blends existing and innovative technology into a new approach called cognitive computing. At the simplest operational level it is technology for asking natural language-based questions, getting answers and support appropriate action to be taken or provide information to make more informed decisions. The technology relies on massive processing power to yield probabilistic responses to user questions using sophisticated analytical algorithms. A cognitive system like Watson accesses structured and unstructured information within an associated knowledge base to return responses that are not simply data but contextualized information that can inform users’ actions and guide their decisions. This is a gigantic leap beyond human decision-making using experience based on random sources from the industry and internal sets of reports and data.

Read More

The Big Deal in Big Data is a Big Opportunity

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 5, 2012 10:40:57 AM

Big data was big news in 2012 and probably in 2013 too. The Harvard Business Review talks about it as The Management Revolution. The Wall Street Journal says Meet the New Boss: Big Data, and Big Data is on the Rise, Bringing Big Questions. Given big data’s popularity in the press, you might think that the technology market is only about big data and how companies use the vast and growing amount of data now available to organizations. While this technology can provide a significant opportunity, the reality is that just having big data does not provide an organization with the intelligence to be more efficient or grow market share. It can provide the foundation on which organizations can assemble technologies and applications that can help realize these opportunities, but organizations need to focus on the big picture, which encompasses additional layers of technology that work together with big data. Our recent benchmark research on business technology innovation found that big data is not the top priority for business or IT; analytics, collaboration, mobile and cloud computing are all more important. Organizations do believe that big data is very important (25%), but if they were pushed to prioritize technologies, it would not top the list.

Read More

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.

Read More

Top Priorities for the Next Generation of Workforce Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 30, 2012 11:23:09 AM

Since the early ’80s, when I personally experienced the transition from written time cards to cards for swiping on a time clock at a grocery retailer I worked at, I have been interested in the software and technology of workforce management. That gives me a perspective not many analysts can match when it comes to transitioning to new technology to help organizations manage and engage workforces. Ventana Research recently completed benchmark research on next-generation workforce management, covering technologies for worker and manager environments and operations. While the research found only 10 percent of organizations at the highest level of overall maturity, which we call Innovative, we did find organizations beginning to deploy and use new workforce management technologies. While we did not distinguish in our research between hourly and salaried employees, the majority of organizations were time-clock-based organizations using technology to manage the nuances of scheduling and working with hourly-based workforces.

Read More

Informatica Optimizes Data Integration for Big Data and Cloud Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 21, 2012 10:48:05 AM

The technology ecosystems are expanding rapidly and the use of big data and cloud computing challenge organizations to process information efficiently and deliver consistent high-quality data. To address these issues, Informatica has introduced two new offerings.

Read More

Quill Brings a Narrative of Insights to Business Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 20, 2012 11:37:39 AM

Business analytics has become the highest ranked technology innovation, according to our benchmark research on business technology innovation, but a lack of trained resources and inefficient technology have hampered the best of organizations when they attempt to roll out analytics. Our benchmark research on business analytics in 2012 found that the majority of analysts in organizations spend more of their time on data-related activities than on analytic tasks, and our 2013 research on business technology innovation finds little improvement. At the same time, organizations are dissatisfied with trying to gain insight from dashboards of charts; see “The Pathetic State of Dashboards”. The worst thing wrong with business analytics today is that we are not able to read them quickly to determine what is relevant and what insights might demand action.

Read More

A Decade of Research at Ventana Research

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 16, 2012 1:47:44 PM

I’m happy to say that Ventana Research celebrated its tenth anniversary at our recent Business Technology Innovation Summit in San Jose at the Tech Museum. This location was fitting, since at the event we introduced and presented our first-ever Technology Innovation Awards and seventh annual Leadership Awards. If you did not get a chance to attend, we have the live webstream available for replay at no cost; thanks to Splunk for sponsoring this to let everyone enjoy the sessions.

Read More

Social Media Stupidity in the Technology Industry

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 16, 2012 12:31:36 PM

If you follow my writing, you’ve seen blog posts with titles such as Industry Exposé: Technology Vendors Skew Analysts and Influencers and Industry Analyst Art or Fiction: Questionable Technology Predictions, so it should be no surprise I can’t resist an opportunity to talk about a little bit of insanity on the part of technology suppliers and industry analysts about social media.

Read More

Can Business Trust Microsoft for Mobile Technology?

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 15, 2012 11:40:29 AM

Mobile technology continues to advance weekly, with new software releases and new versions of devices. Though it has been in the headlines frequently in recent weeks, can Microsoft really change the mobile technology dynamics in the business world?

Read More

Building Your Workforce Into a Strong Tribe

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 15, 2012 10:37:32 AM

TribeHR has brought to market an HR application suite that uses social collaboration to empower workers and managers to perform tasks that might once have been done mostly by HR professionals, or not done at all. The software-as-a-service-based TribeHR application helps businesses with fewer than 500 employees with recruiting, applicant tracking, onboarding, performance and goal setting, and time and vacation management – but with a twist. By using social collaboration as a foundation for its functionality, TribeHR takes advantage of knowledge sharing, the most valuable approach our human capital management benchmark research found for engaging the workforce.

Read More

Kronos Takes Tablets and Tasks to Workforces

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 14, 2012 9:03:28 AM

Workforce management software vendor Kronos released its financial results at its 15th annual KronosWorks conference (#KronosWorks12) this week. As a private company Kronos had $870 million in revenue for its 2012 fiscal year ending in September, making Kronos one of the largest software and technology companies in the world. Our benchmark research into next-generation workforce management finds the most important technology priorities are collaboration (70%), analytics (68%) and mobility (43%). Kronos addresses these trends with its portfolio of workforce management applications.

Read More

The Big Data in Teradata

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 29, 2012 11:11:12 AM

At the recent Teradata’s annual Partners user conference, the company outlined its expanding role as a provider distributed information architecture technology. My colleague Tony Cosentino assessed Teradata’s business analytics and big data strategy, but there is more under the covers in regards to the company’s expanding role for big data and enterprise architectures. Over the last several decades Teradata has been known for providing enterprise data warehouse appliances, such as its unveiling of its new Teradata 2700 data warehouse appliance, which uses the latest multicore Intel processors. Now, as organizations continue to invest in distributed approaches in which they store and utilize data on a range of appliances and through Hadoop-based big data technology, Teradata has begun to provide integration with Hadoop, including a direct connector to it and commercialized versions of it in partnership with Cloudera and Hortonworks.  Earlier this year, for instance, Teradata formed a partnership with Hortonworks that provides a commercialized edition of the open source Hadoop that now is further integrated.

Read More

IBM Makes Big Deal of Big Data

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 26, 2012 12:52:42 PM

At its annual IBM Information on Demand 2012  (IOD) and Business Analytics Forum, IBM unleashed a broad range of news concerning big data and analytics. It showcased its recently announced IBM PureData System appliance, which provides an engineering system for analytics and transactions and is part of what IBM calls IBM PureSystems. Appliances are one of the most desired technologies planned for big data according to our benchmark research. With this announcement, IBM highlights its branding and provides more market presence as a way to compete with vendors such as Oracle and Teradata who have already announced appliance offerings.

Read More

The Red Hot Business Intelligence Vendors for 2012 Revealed in Value Index

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 25, 2012 12:30:39 PM

Ventana Research has just released the 2012 Value Index for Business Intelligence, in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this software category for almost a decade. Our latestbenchmark research in business intelligence found that new technology advancements in business intelligence are critical to its future; more than two-thirds of organizations will use BI on mobile technology in the next year, and more than a fifth will do so with collaboration technology. Our benchmark research on organizations using this software not only uncovers best practices and trends, but also highlights what business expects from business intelligence and where IT can support business needs more effectively across a range of roles and processes. Moving beyond the model where IT delivers BI to business, this Value Index assesses what those in business need from business intelligence, from executives and management to analysts and managers.

Read More

SAP Provides Facts over Fiction on SAP HANA and Launches NetWeaver in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 17, 2012 11:56:26 AM

At the SAP TechEd conference in Las Vegas this week, the global software giant unveiled the latest versions of its technology, platforms and applications across the cloud, mobile and on premises. SAP executive Vishal Sikka followed up in person to his written response to the statements Oracle CEO and Chairman Larry Ellison made at Oracle OpenWorld on the limited nature of SAP’s HANA in-memory computing technology. Sikka presented a SAP HANA server with 100 terabytes of DRAM processing 1 petabyte of raw data to counter Ellison’s commentary, and Oracle has yet to release its comparable Exadata X3 appliance. SAP also announced that SAP HANA Cloud is available in Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide anyone the opportunity to use the technology, though the AWS version will be limited in the size of data it can process in its in-memory environment. Amazon’s Andy Jassy, the senior vice president of AWS, spoke about the company’s work with SAP to advance cloud computing’s utility for developers.

Read More

SumTotal Systems HCM Portfolio Advances in a Mobile and Social World

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 12, 2012 12:29:53 PM

During its annual industry analyst summit this week, human capital management software vendor SumTotal Systems introduced new heads of finance, marketing and sales, and talked about expanding operations in Europe and Asia-Pacific – all part of a business growth strategy that I am sure the company’s private equity owner is expecting. While I wrote about the company earlier this year, SumTotal now says it has signed up 85 new customers so far in 2012 for its human capital management suite, and its 3,500 customers include brand names such as McAfee, American Express, US Airways and EastWest Bank. Customers United Airlines, POET and McCain Foods made presentations at the summit that illustrated why SumTotal is a relevant and strategic HCM provider.

Read More

In HR Technology, Social and Mobile Are Hot and Becoming Business Necessity

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 10, 2012 12:23:06 PM

This week I’m at the 2012 HR Technology Conference (Twitter: #HRTechConf) where the scene is more than cool – it is hip. In the past several years technology for human resources – now more often called human capital management – has transformed from administrative software to applications anyone in the workforce can use to access information about their company, job, goals, performance, pay, benefits and even what they can do to advance in the organization. HR technology is embracing the six most important current technology trends, namely big data, business analytics, business collaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media. At this year’s conference, the focus on business collaboration called social collaboration and mobile was front and center.

Read More

Industry Analyst Art or Fiction: Questionable Technology Predictions

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 8, 2012 11:17:56 AM

I recently wrote about how technology vendors attempt to skew analysts’ and influencers’ research from the edit and review cycles controlled in financial contracts to payment for placed blogs as independent analysis published on the Internet. It is unfortunate that we have to deal with this level of bias. Clearly it is critical for business and IT to identify trusted sources of research and insight that can help determine technology direction. Businesses need not just data but insights from experienced advisors who can provide information with depth and meaning. Unfortunately, a recent pronouncement or prediction from one analyst firm throws a bad light on technology analysts in general.

Read More

Industry Exposé: Technology Vendors Skew Analysts and Influencers

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 5, 2012 12:06:01 PM

In my more than a decade of writing on the trends and direction of the technology industry, occasionally I have talked about the dark side of technology industry analysts. In that vein, I wrote about the diminishing science of research in technology analyst firms, which has impacted the quality of the analysis and advice given by analysts. It built on my previous post on Why Bad Research Could Jeopardize Your Business. Unfortunately, the ethics and morals in the technology analyst industry have not gotten a lot better since I wrote those pieces, especially when it comes to the objectivity and independence of the research. Now it is time to provide shed light on the financial bias of written research and blogs by industry analysts and the firms they represent and publish under in coverage and rating of technology vendors.

Read More

Oracle Fusion for CRM and HCM Ready with a Mobile Tap

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 4, 2012 12:10:20 PM

I attended Oracle’s annual OpenWorld conference this week. The company claims it holds the world’s largest technology conference, with 50,000 attendees and a million people viewing sessions online. It was a great opportunity to get close to the Oracle Fusion Applications, which the company presented as proven and ready, with customers using them on-premises and in private and public cloud computing usage methods. In keynotes from executives Larry Ellison, Mark Hurd and Thomas Kurian and application-focused sessions with executives Steve Miranda and Chris Leone, Oracle repeated the message that Fusion Applications are not just for cloud computing and web services but are also accessible through mobile technology called Oracle Fusion Tap that operates natively on the Apple iPad. The company left no confusion about its applications’ readiness for cloud and mobile computing, and provided insight into future advancements.

Read More

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.

Read More

Plumbing the Salesforce Clouds is Your Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 25, 2012 11:26:54 AM

Salesforce is a global software-as-a-service (SaaS) company to be reckoned with. The swarming crowds at its Dreamforce event last week were estimated to exceed 90,000. The company is rapidly growing an ecosystem that includes Sales, Service and Marketing Clouds; Force.com for building applications; and Data.com for storing data in the cloud centrally for use across Salesforce products. It is also focusing on social computing, as I outlined at the beginning of the event. Hundreds of Salesforce partners complement and in some cases compete with the company with a large range of applications and tools available on the Salesforce AppExchange.

Read More

Salesforce Struggles to Deliver on the Dream of Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 21, 2012 12:35:51 PM

I was at the Salesforce.com Dreamforce conference this week to hear about the latest advancements from the cloud computing software giant. Salesforce has helped revolutionize cloud computing for business, and its social media and collaborative technologies help advance business processes in sales, customer service and improve the interactions between employees, partners and customers. Salesforce has made great advancements in cloud, social and mobile technology, as I have assessed and my colleague did too.

Read More

Are You Dreaming Social? Salesforce Is!

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 18, 2012 10:47:07 AM

The annual Salesforce.com Dreamforce conference (Twitter: #DF12), just underway, may be the largest software conference ever, with attendance, physically and on the Internet, expected to be 90,000. Certainly, as one of the largest software events of 2012, this conference will be heavily covered via social media, while under the roof of the Moscone Center and surrounding hotels Salesforce will be demonstrating the power of using social media concepts in the enterprise and combining those concepts with collaboration software. Salesforce, which has become a cloud computing and software–as-a-service force in the industry, is publicizing its new efforts in marketing and in work applications. Once a conference for marketing and sales professionals, Dreamforce is now a technology and IT event that interests many IT organizations that are examining how renting software on the Internet can help their efforts and support their business priorities more efficiently than purchasing it.

Read More

Oracle Presents a Taleo Future for Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 14, 2012 5:06:50 PM

I attended Taleo World to see how well Oracle is integrating Taleo after acquiring the company in 2012. I assessed the announcement by Oracle earlier this year; it was clear then that Oracle needed to make this acquisition to boost its cloud computing and talent management efforts. In the three-hour keynote session, a business overview and software demonstrations indicated what Oracle has in store for the applications and how it plans to fuse its applications and technology to add value to organizations.

Read More

Look Who’s Hot in Data Integration for 2012

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 7, 2012 11:54:05 AM

Ventana Research has just released the 2012 Value Index for Data Integration, in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this software category for almost a decade. Our latest benchmark research in information management found that data integration is a critical component of information management strategies, according to 55 percent of organizations. Our benchmark research on organizations using this software not only uncovers best practices and trends, but it also highlights why IT is using data integration to advance its competencies across people and processes.

Read More

IBM Making Billion-Dollar Bet on Kenexa for Social Business and Talent Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 29, 2012 10:59:54 AM

IBM has announced its intention to acquire Kenexa as part of IBM Smarter Workforce initiative and social business software division. It’s a billion-dollar-plus investment to bolster IBM’s social business and give the company more depth in the human capital management software market that comprises human resources, talent management and workforce management. A lot of surface-level analysis I’ve seen on this announcement is not worth reading, but the deeper review below may help Kenexa and IBM customers, along with the market at large, and understand the implications of this announcement.

Read More