Mark Smith's Analyst Perspectives

All Analyst Perspectives

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. 

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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. .

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Optimizing the Business of Selling in 2017

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Stibo Systems Continues to Advance PIM for Business and IT

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Product Information Management Trumps Master Data Management

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

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

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The State of Product Information Management Software for Business and IT

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Informatica Unveils New Platform and Tools for Information Optimization

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Agility Provides Simplicity and Innovation in Product Information Management

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Product Information Management is for Business

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Informatica Goes Heiler for PIM and Product Information Management

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Stupidity of KPIs in Business Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 23, 2012 11:26:48 AM

In my last rant, on business analytics and the pathetic state of dashboards, I pointed out significant flaws in business intelligence software created by technology providers and in how it is being deployed by business and IT. Now I want to follow up with some insight on disconnects to a critical asset that is essential to the success of business analytics. I mean key performance indicators (KPIs), a term used in inaccurate ways that have diminished the value of the concept for business.

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The Pathetic State of Dashboards

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 21, 2012 3:02:08 PM

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Stibo Is Red Hot for Product Information Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 13, 2012 10:16:08 AM

When it comes to managing product information, organizations know they have room for improvement; only 27 percent trust their efforts completely, and less than a fifth (19%) are very satisfied with them. Almost half (48%) say they have too many incompatible tools, while 41 percent do not have a centralized information repository and 45 percent use a manual process to create a single complete, consistent and reliable product record. All of these facts and more from our product information management (PIM) benchmark indicate that businesses need a set of integrated processes and applications to meet their responsibilities. The benchmark found that adaptability, functionality and usability top technology and vendor considerations among the core components of our Value Index methodology.

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Anaplan is on a Mission for Planning Driven Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 10, 2012 11:31:14 AM

When it comes to the task of managing performance, many organizations still find themselves fixated on the past rather than planning for improvement in the future. When performance management processes operate efficiently, technology to support activities such as modeling and analytics can optimize outcomes and help align them to targeted goals and objectives. This might seem trivial or easily done, but the reality is that most organizations lack a unified platform that anyone in the enterprise can easily engage and leverage.

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CIOs Need to Make Information Management a Real Priority

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 8, 2012 12:08:28 PM

Our recent benchmark research on information management uncovered some startling facts about the level of technology adoption necessary for efficient information-centric organizations. Chief information officers (CIO) are responsible for the availability of information to their businesses in a consistent and timely basis, but in most organizations, information management is seen as just a delegated set of tasks and is not the CIO’s top priority. This unfortunate outlook can have a lasting impact on the efficiency and profitability of a business.

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Product Information Management Is Hot for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 2, 2012 11:14:46 AM

Ventana Research has just released our 2012 Value Index for Product Information Management (PIM), in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this software category for many years, and our latest benchmark research in product information management, coming out shortly, finds PIM software providing substantive benefits in new channels of interaction with suppliers and customers.

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WorkForce Software Focuses on Effective and Efficient Workforces

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 27, 2012 9:20:17 AM

Our research agenda for 2012 in human capital management outlined the importance of workforce management for all organizations. One provider, WorkForce Software, provides systems that support scheduling, time and attendance, leave and absence and fatigue management. As I noted in my last analysis on WorkForce Software, the company’s focus on the fatigue aspect of workforce management, especially in white-collar environments such as transportation, utilities and healthcare, has provided them both recognition and growth. I attended the company’s first technology analyst summit this week to get a deeper view into the company and its products and see how it is shaping up in light of our research on the key applications providers in this market.

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Sales Performance Management Is Red-Hot with Applications

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 19, 2012 1:07:21 PM

We have just released our 2012 Value Index for Sales Performance Management (SPM), in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this software category for many years, and our latest benchmark research in sales performance management found many areas for improvement among sales applications in a field where many sales organizations still use outdated or insufficient applications to manage revenue generation and customer relationships.

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Kognitio Brings Big Data Experience to Business Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 6, 2012 11:56:36 AM

Kognitio has been serving the analytics and data needs of organizations for more than 20 years with an in-memory analytics platform that meets many of the big-data needs of today’s organizations. Kognitio Analytical Platform provides a unique massively parallel processing (MPP) in-memory database that can rapidly load data and calculate analytics; it is available both in an analytical software appliance and via cloud computing.

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Roambi Provides Digital Platform for Mobile Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 5, 2012 6:21:20 PM

The demand for business information on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets continues to increase, while the technology to support it has not. In our benchmark research on information applications, only 11 percent of organizations said they are very satisfied with their ability to provide such information, and their top two complaints with existing technologies are that they are too slow and not adaptable or flexible. The unique aspects of mobile technology, from the small screen size to the use of gestures for interaction, make for a complex technological problem.

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Total Compensation Is Hot in Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 29, 2012 11:17:50 AM

We have just released our 2012 Value Index for Total Compensation Management (TCM), in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this category for many years, and our latest benchmark research in total compensation management found some improvement among applications in a field where many organizations still use outdated applications to manage an area with large financial and human capital impacts.

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The Mandate for Social Collaboration in Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 28, 2012 12:32:09 PM

It is hard to avoid seeing the impact of social media on our daily work, from marketing and sales to customer service. Consumers and customers can interact on the Internet to share their experiences and opinions often and easily, but internally we in business are still operating in the era of electronic mail and phone calls. Fortunately, that archaic state is changing. A new generation of technologies called social collaboration has evolved from social media to adapt to business needs. These technologies include broadcasting like Twitter, posting to digital walls like Facebook, discussion forums and online communities, and chat-based interactions, all used in a secure manner by an organization’s workforce. Since social collaboration is about people interacting for a common purpose across processes, using it for human capital management makes a lot of sense.

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Globoforce Engages Employees with Social Recognition

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 27, 2012 2:34:07 PM

The use of social collaboration to support human capital management is increasing as the need to engage talent becomes a higher priority in organizations. In particular, those that have a growing population of workers from the millennial generation see social media as a primary means of communication. Social collaboration is growing in acceptance – 58 percent of organizations now permit it, according to our benchmark research on social collaboration and human capital management (HCM). For many organizations, this opens up communication with employees that goes well beyond electronic mail.

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Get Sales Applications That Make You Smarter and More Engaged

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 27, 2012 2:10:45 PM

It’s clear that sales organizations need to be efficient, but many are unaware of critical applications they could deploy to establish sales excellence. In my recent analysis, “Sales Organizations Need a Swift Technology Kick”, I outlined why sales departments have to look beyond using sales force automation (SFA) and spreadsheets andexamine dedicated applications for improving productivity and effectiveness. Our benchmark research in sales applications found a new set of application priorities in sales organizations that you should assess to determine how well your sales efforts match up to others’. Also, in most cases, we found the prioritization and needs of sales organizations are not aligned, resulting in wasted time and likely creating a lack of access to accurate information for sales management and operations.

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Pitney Bowes is Transforming Customer Communications

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 25, 2012 11:19:40 AM

Pitney Bowes (PB) opened its annual technology summit (Twitter: #TechSummit12) with a review of its organizational assets and its rich history of engineering hardware and systems for physical and now digital delivery of communications. The multibillion-dollar technology giant is transforming itself to address the digital needs of business for interaction with consumers. It also is working to transform how business communications and interactions work across all channels. Handling new media interactions using Facebook, Twitter, e-commerce and mobile technologies are critical to managing communications in a consistent manner and improving the customer experience.

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IBM Advances Predictive Analytics for Decision Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 22, 2012 12:42:17 PM

At its Business Analytics Analyst Summit (Twitter: #IBMBAS12) this week, IBM unveiled its new release of analytics software for decision management. Over the last 25 years decision support systems have transformed into decision management, in which analytics, rules and optimization methods help organizations use information to guide optimal outcomes. IBM has experience and technology in these areas, most of it acquired, to apply to specific organizational needs in vertical industries. In addition, IBM has advanced its information management technologies to support big data and predictive analytics in operational environments. Its stream- and event-processing technology helps speed routing and analysis of information across business processes. Each of these are critical for supporting decision management technology needs for business processes.

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Hortonworks Leads a Fast and Growing Herd of Hadoop

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 22, 2012 12:04:22 PM

Hadoop, the big-data technology, has transformed businesses’ ability to cost-effectively store and process large volumes of data for analysis. Numerous companies have invested in supporting Hadoop, and some produce commercial versions of the open source technology. At last year’s Hadoop Summit Hortonworks had just started to establish itself as one of these providers. Now, at the 2012 Hadoop Summit, with a new CEO, Rob Bearden, a new head of marketing, John Kreisa, and other hires, it is moving fast to advance its Hadoop momentum.

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Planview Helps Direct Business and IT Portfolios to Optimal Outcomes

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 20, 2012 11:55:26 AM

Business has been getting smarter about using technology for analyzing processes and optimizing outcomes, but still has much room for improvement when it comes to operational management. Traditional project management has advanced to encompass financial and operational planning, including prioritization toward goals and expected outcomes, creating the concept of portfolio management. In essence, optimizing the use of people and processes associated with products and services along with supporting technology is what portfolio management is all about. Unfortunately, many organizations that use personal productivity tools do not realize that email, presentations and spreadsheets are not efficient or effective  tools for these purposes compared to adopting applications designed for them.

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Enterprise Revolution of Predictive Analytics with Version 6

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 15, 2012 11:40:58 AM

In our benchmark research in predictive analytics we’ve uncovered some intriguing tools for taking advantage of big data in the enterprise. Revolution Analytics, which we analyzed earlier this year, this month introduced its 6.0 release. Revolution extends the open source statistical programming language R with capabilities you would expect out of enterprise software. The company has grown substantially over the last several years and has an impressive list of more than a hundred customers in both the private and public sectors. Revolution partners with database and data integration providers such as Talend and Informatica and business intelligence providers who want to connect to more advanced level of analytics. Revolution can operate across a range of big data architectures, including Hadoop, working with Cloudera and IBM as well as data warehouse appliances such as IBM Netezza and Teradata. This is a smart move, since predictive analytics is the second most important unavailable capability cited by big data deployments in to our benchmark research.

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Teradata Aster Standardizes Access to Hadoop with SQL-H

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 13, 2012 1:10:11 PM

Using Hadoop just got easier, thanks to Teradata’s introduction of SQL-H, a new query interface to analyze data from Hadoop.  Most Hadoop access methods require preprocessing and staging of data from the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) using technologies such as MapReduce. These approaches require new skills and technologies, introducing more time and costs for users, which offset the benefits of Hadoop, which according to our big data benchmark research include increasing the speed of analysis. Teradata has announced support for SQL-H not only for its own Aster Database 5.0, which it expects to release in the third quarter, but also supporting the commercial version of Hadoop through Hortonworks.

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SuccessFactors Connects People with New Applications

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 8, 2012 12:16:59 PM

I attended SuccessConnect (Twitter: #sconnect), the annual SuccessFactors conference, to hear the latest from this talent management applications company. A lot has changed for the formerly independent company since it acquired Plateau less than a year ago and Jobs2Web. In turn, earlier this year SAP acquired SuccessFactors to expand its cloud computing business. Its recently outlined expansion as part of SAP’s overall cloud computing strategy is beginning to take shape.

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New Generation of Big-Data Analytics with 1010data

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 8, 2012 11:18:08 AM

At first I thought 1010data just developed a faster data warehouse technology to be used with business intelligence tools. After a recent briefing, however, I learned  that it provides much more than a data warehouse; the product is a large-scale analytics server that empowers business analysts to work on big data, conducting for, example, market basket analysis or correlations of customer and product information. The software lets organizations retain and analyze more data and increase the speed of analysis, which our benchmark research on big data found to be the top two benefits of the technology for more than 70 percent of organizations.

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Talemetry Finds and Verifies Candidates Better than Others

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 7, 2012 11:12:19 AM

Talent Technology software finds and verifies candidates for hire in organizations that use it, as I discussed in my analysis last year. The company’s newly announced product Talemetry Verify provides candidate screening and assessment to help recruiters and job seekers.

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Information Builders Advances Business Analytics and Big Data

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 6, 2012 1:06:29 PM

More than 1,000 people attended the 32nd annual Information Builders Summit conference this week to learn about the company’s advances in big data, business analytics, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media, which CEO and founder Gerald Cohen announced and demonstrated during his keynote address. With WebFOCUS version 8, Information Builders has made significant strides in a range of technology areas to support analytics and visualization since my analysis after last year’s conference.

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ADP Aims To Dominate Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on May 25, 2012 4:22:25 PM

Acquisitions and new product releases continue to make the market for human capital management a hotbed of activity, as organizations attempt to fully utilize and increase the value of their workforces as I have outlined in my research agenda. ADP, with more than $10 billion in revenues and more than 570,000 customers, is aiming for the top spot in this market.

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Xactly Helps Sales Go Mobile and Get Smarter with Incent 8

Posted by Mark Smith on May 24, 2012 9:57:52 AM

Businesses aim to make their sales function as productive as possible, but they don’t always support that goal with investment in technology. I recently wrote about sales needing a swift technology kick. Sales application vendor Xactly provides a boot with the release of Xactly Incent 8 and will make parts of the application suite available from the Apple App Store for the iPad in the coming weeks.

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Opera Solutions Orchestrates Intelligent Applications using Big Data and Predictive Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on May 23, 2012 11:11:35 AM

Predictive analytics has the potential to help businesses increase the impacts of their actions by creating indicators that represent future outcomes based on existing behavior. This process becomes more complicated when they have to apply predictive analytics to what we call big data environments. As yet only 13 percent of organizations are using predictive analytics according to our business analytics benchmark research, although 37 percent indicated that predictive capabilities are very important to their business analytics efforts. Opera Solutions is one of the larger vendors of dedicated predictive analytics software, having more than 650 employees, more than 200 of them data scientists, who help organizations turn their data into actionable intelligence. There is opportunity for the company, as predictive analytics and visualization of data are two capabilities not available in four out of every five organizations according to our big-data benchmark research. Beyond creating indicators, Opera Solutions’ applications can generate signals that present results not only visually but also in English sentences that integrate the analytics and provide guidance for determining next steps. This sophisticated capability can help improve business processes and refine decision-making and truly interact with the application.

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SAP Brings Out New Voice and Strategy for the Cloud at SAPPHIRE

Posted by Mark Smith on May 18, 2012 2:50:45 PM

At this week’s SAPPHIRE NOW (Twitter #SAPPHIRENOW) annual conference, SAP unveiled a refreshed cloud computing strategy and released technology that addresses its new cloud computing business priorities regarding customers, people, money and suppliers. It’s a good time to see what has changed since my analysis at the SAP Analyst Influencer Summit last December.

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Informatica 9.5 Supports New Generation of Big Data and Cloud Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on May 18, 2012 1:02:07 PM

Informatica has announced a major release, version 9.5, of its software platform, which will be generally available in June. The company’s data integration technologies will support the new generation of computing that includes big data, cloud computing, mobile and social media. These computing environments, which our firm has defined as key business technology drivers for this decade, have a compelling impact on the data that enterprises create and use. Being smart about integrating and utilizing significant volumes of data is essential; continuously copying and storing duplicate versions of data is not the best path forward.

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Kronos Supercharges Workforce Analytics with New Technology

Posted by Mark Smith on May 11, 2012 12:18:27 PM

Adoption of workforce analytics is increasing as organizations seek to recruit and retain employees more effectively and ensure that their people deliver the productivity they expect. According to our benchmark research on the topic, 89 percent of organizations want to make it simpler to provide workforce analytics, which is not surprising as our analysis shows that only 12 percent of organizations have reached the highest level of maturity here.

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Sales Organizations Need a Swift Technology Kick

Posted by Mark Smith on May 10, 2012 12:06:56 PM

Our latest benchmark research on sales applications and technology reveals three trends sales organizations see as critical to improving their operations and performance: mobile technology like smartphones and tablets, collaborative capabilities and business analytics applied to sales. At the same time many sales processes are becoming easier to use, including compensation, forecasting and quota and territory management. To take advantage of these advancements sales management has to establish priorities and better understand how they can help maximize the time focused on selling.

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Pentaho Business Analytics Brings Visual Discovery and More Big Data Support

Posted by Mark Smith on May 9, 2012 1:31:45 PM

With the release of Business Analytics version 4.5, Pentaho has expanded its platform and tools to address the needs of business and IT. The product has come a long way since the version 4 release less than a year ago, which broke ground in ease of use and support for big-data sources. Advancing beyond its roots in business intelligence, Pentaho Business Analytics 4.5 addresses data discovery, data integration and data mining and provides visual discovery and analytics that operate against stores of big data.

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Kapow Software Harvests and Virtualizes Information and Applications for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on May 8, 2012 11:08:58 AM

Making business use of the vast amount of information on the Web and Internet along with a company’s intranet is no easy task. Kapow Software aims to help by providing tools to define and virtualize access to information, integrate it with other information, such as that in databases, and present it in a useful format. The tool can supply access to data from legacy applications such as PeopleSoft and Siebel, newer applications from Oracle and SAP and applications in cloud computing environments, such as Salesforce.com’s. And Kapow Software not only accesses and integrates information from applications but also enriches it.

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InetSoft Empowers Organizations To Mobilize Business Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on May 7, 2012 11:15:12 AM

Business intelligence software is increasingly mobile, becoming available via smartphones and tablets and now enabling planning and what-if scenarios to determine the impacts of changes that might be made to improve performance. InetSoft, which has been providing business intelligence tools for more than 15 years, has advanced its technologies to address these trends. The company recently announced version 11.2 of InetSoft Style Intelligence, adding many new capabilities. Among them, the software now allows users to modify data within its Viewsheet data worksheet and provides database write-back to support a range of needs. It also lets users export and manipulate data within Microsoft Excel and then import it back into Style Intelligence for further use.

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Peoplefluent Advances Social Collaboration and Learning with Socialtext

Posted by Mark Smith on May 4, 2012 12:10:49 PM

This week Peoplefluent announced that it has invested in Socialtext, a company that provides social collaboration software at the enterprise level. With this strategic investment Bedford Funding, the private equity firm that owns Peoplefluent, is the direct beneficiary. Peoplefluent will extend Socialtext into the human capital management market while continuing to let the company meet the broader market interest in its offering. Peoplefluent has moved quickly to make this application and platform available to its customers.

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Workday 16 Brings Simplicity and Mobility to Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on May 4, 2012 10:22:06 AM

Competition in the human capital management market rages on, with application suppliers racing to provide sophisticated applications that operate in the cloud. Cloud computing is a key factor in advancing human capital management, included in our research agenda for this area, along with analytics, collaboration, mobility and social media.

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NICE Transforms Customer Experience through Mobile and Interaction Intelligence

Posted by Mark Smith on May 3, 2012 1:06:15 PM

I attended NICE Systems’ annual Interactions (Twitter #Interaction2012) conference in Nashville to get the latest from this growing global software business that focuses on customer-centric applications. If you have not heard of NICE you might not be primarily involved in managing and interacting with customers, the area in which NICE has been growing organically and by acquiring technology providers that complement its existing portfolio. As we discussed in recent analyses, and NICE acquired Merced Systems for its sales- and service-centric performance management applications and Fizzback for customer feedback management software. Both have helped it become a more strategically focused software business. NICE Systems targets enterprise contact centers as well as financial risk, compliance and security. NICE makes its applications available not just on-premises but also in software as a service and hosted environments.

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Datawatch Enables Business Analytics through Data Discovery and Virtualization

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 30, 2012 1:34:00 PM

Thanks to Datawatch, businesses may find themselves buying and deploying fewer new business analytics and business intelligence tools. As I noted in my analysis last year, the company’s new management has begun to transition it to a more appealing market position in which it helps enterprises use analytics to improve operational efficiency and decision-making. The Datawatch products focus on data virtualization – that is, accessing data from multiple sources not usually seen as accessible for analysis, such as reports and documents in Adobe Acrobat format, production systems, streams coming from cloud computing or print output, or even legacy systems. The value of this lies in reducing the time it takes to access such data and integrate it with other data to create enriched information and analytics.

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Splunk: Big Data Machine for Operational Intelligence

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 27, 2012 11:37:29 AM

Splunk recently entered the financial markets as a publicly traded company (NASDAQ: SPLK) and also entered a new phase in its corporate growth. Splunk combines the power of search and discovery with analytics on data generated by IT systems, that they call machine data, and provide insight for a new generation of operational intelligence that helps everyone in IT including the CIO determine the efficiency of its systems that support business. The company has built a platform that can index data on a large scale (“big data”) for rapid analysis and search. They also through its analytics provide the ability to perform visual and data discovery which is critical to reduce the time to determining unknown issues in existing IT systems. This helps IT staff ascertain not just the performance but the efficiency of systems that operate on a 24-by-7 basis. Splunk’s software operates in real time, surpassing the traditional methods of applying business intelligence against a data warehouse – a practice that’s ineffective for use in IT, where time is not the CIO’s friend when it comes to understanding issues or opportunities for improvement. Splunk has grown rapidly, partly because it’s simple to download and try, and then to license for use in production. It has more than 3,300 licensed customers in 75 countries. The management team is led by CEO Godfrey Sullivan, who has experience and a track record at companies such as Hyperion.

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IBM Makes Big Data Deal for Vivisimo and Supports Cloudera Hadoop

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 26, 2012 12:29:13 PM

Through a series of acquisitions and organic development over the last five years, IBM has established itself as a leader in enterprise big data for business analytics. I recently wrote about IBM Smarter Analytics, which brings together the company’s portfolio of software, systems and services from analytics to big data. But supporting big data requires the ability to access many sources of information; our benchmark research on big data found that more than half of organizations require information from external sources, and that requires some software flexibility.

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Datameer Advances Big-Data Analytics on Hadoop

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 26, 2012 10:25:31 AM

The increasing pressure to store, retrieve and process data on an unprecedented scale in the enterprise has created a market for processes and tools to support it. Big data, as it’s widely known, is one of the six business technology innovations of the decade outlined in our research agenda, and it has created a renaissance in data management. Our benchmark research on big data finds the top benefits of it to be the ability to retain and analyze more data (74%) and to increase the speed of analysis (70%). In this context a vendor named Datameer comes in.

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TALX Provides New Elements in Workforce Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 26, 2012 9:58:05 AM

The workforce analytics market continues to evolve as organizations seek to improve the time it takes to find insights and employer metrics in order to meet compliance requirements, mitigate risk and enforce governance policies. TALX, a subsidiary of Equifax, provides a range of data-oriented services that help HR, payroll and tax professionals. Its integration with eVerify service assists the hiring process with I-9 compliance, and capabilities to examine workforce compensation and financial liabilities and reduce false unemployment claim costs. TALX, which has the credit files of tens of millions of employees in the U.S. through its parent Equifax, that with employee salary data provided by the employer can determine the financial health and risks of a workforce.

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IBM Will Take Varicent for Sales Performance Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 13, 2012 12:11:00 PM

In an unexpected announcement this morning, IBM announced its intent to acquire Varicent to enter the sales performance management market. For IBM this is a strategic acquisition, since it did not have any significant or dedicated applications for sales. IBM intends to acquire and place Varicent within the IBM Business Analytics group, which develops similar analytics and performance management application for other line of business and IT organizations.

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Cambridge Semantics Makes Intelligent Use of Information

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 12, 2012 8:58:11 AM

The increasing volume of information within enterprises and on the Internet requires businesses to be smarter and more efficient in how they use it. One large challenge is navigating through information and access to the data underlying key business documents in a way that people actually think and operate. The traditional technology approach is defining a data model with a database and then mapping the data to it and is not capable of dealing with data from diverse unstructured information sources and do not provide navigation or discovery on the information. Fortunately, information technology has advanced to provide ways to build a semantic information framework over a company’s unstructured information assets in the enterprise and on the Internet.

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SumTotal Systems Sums Up Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 9, 2012 11:53:20 AM

Businesses’ strategic imperative to optimize human capital is creating significant energy in the market for applications used to attract, optimize and retain talent. Amid all the recent acquisitions and changes that I have been writing about in this field, SumTotal Systems seems to get less attention than its size and the reach of its business merit. The company has more than 45 million users, with more than 15 million of them operating in a cloud computing environment spanning more than 3,500 customer companies worldwide. Its investments in 2011 in mobile, social learning and workforce analytics software have become part of its HCM portfolio, as have its acquisitions of CyberShift to expand into workforce management and Accero for payroll, benefits and analytic content. The company has done a good job of extending its portfolio while improving the user experience for its customers.

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Can You Trust Salesforce and Rypple for Performance Management?

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 30, 2012 5:41:37 PM

Salesforce has begun to toot its marketing horn about its new capabilities for performance management through its acquisition of Rypple, a provider of software designed for social collaboration for improving employee engagement. I have already discussed this acquisition (See: Salesforce.com looking for a Successful Rypple in Human Capital Management) and have actually signed up for and used the software. Rypple has introduced some great innovations to promote feedback and dialogue between employees and managers. Salesforce has expanded what this software can be used for in an organization with its latest announcement, as it discussed at its Cloudforce conference and posted on YouTube. Rypple has many cutting-edge customers, including Facebook, that are looking for a different approach to talent management processes than that of the traditional HR organizations in well-established industries. However, anyone expecting to use the application to replace existing performance management software will find Salesforce’s announcement to be a little premature based on the state of the application and capabilities.

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The Jobscience of Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 30, 2012 1:36:39 PM

New human capital management solutions are entering the market, aiming to simplify recruiting, hiring, onboarding and managing employees. Many such applications focus on talent management for use after employees are hired, but vendors also need to streamline tasks for recruiters, HR administrators and hiring managers. Jobscience provides software that simplifies the processes of getting the talent you want to hire ready to work as quickly as possible.

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Saba Expands the Concept of Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 23, 2012 3:33:16 PM

Saba this week announced its acquisition of Human Concepts, which provides applications and tools for understanding and interacting with employees through visualizations based on the organizational chart. Human Concepts had expanded its portfolio beyond tools to support planning and change processes critical for organizational succession and transition. The company has more than 500 customers worldwide, including partners like Infor, Oracle and SAP.

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IBM Launches Smarter Analytics: Ready to Get Smart?

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 23, 2012 9:31:14 AM

IBM this week launched a business initiative called Smarter Analytics to showcase the value of its technology and professional services in this area. The event, led by Steve Mills, head of IBM’s software and systems business, highlighted the company’s ability to solve analytic challenges at all levels of complexity. At the event IBM highlighted Watson, the learning and expert systems technology that in 2011 beat human champions on Jeopardy. IBM also introduced a collection of case studies exemplifying its customers’ success. 

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Ceridian’s Ambitious Agenda in Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 9, 2012 11:15:52 AM

I attended the Ceridian analyst summit (Twitter #CENAday) in Boston to see how the company  is expanding its business in HR-related software and services into human capital management (HCM). Ceridian derives $1.5 billion in revenue from more than 130,000 customers with 25 million employees at organizations ranging from small and midsize business to two-thirds of the Fortune 500. CEO Stuart Harvey has been expanding the company’s management team, with key additions in heads of marketing and finance and promotions of internal management, all of whom were front and center for the analyst summit. Ceridian’s focus on human capital management meshes with our 2012 research agenda in this field as it tries to exploit the potential value of an entire workforce to meet the needs of the business.

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Human Capital Management Research and Educational Agenda for 2012

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 9, 2012 8:14:16 AM

Utilizing the talents of everyone in the workforce is a critical priority for businesses. Savvy executives understand and are anxious to avoid the cost and time incurred in replacing trained, experienced employees and the downturn in productivity while jobs are unfilled. Our benchmark research into recruiting found that more than half of organizations now use metrics of cost and time-to-hire, which indicates the maturing of human resources organizations in response to this challenge. 

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The Business of Sales Research Agenda for 2012

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 6, 2012 10:28:00 PM

Investing wisely in sales-related people and processes is a key to business success. In 2012, helping sales staff perform at their highest levels should be a top priority for management. That may take some effort, according to our benchmark research, which indicates that only 14 percent of sales organizations operate at the highest level of innovation and competitiveness. In recent years, most organizations merely discussed moving beyond using only their sales force automation application and Microsoft Office for improving sales efficiency. Now sales organizations can move beyond systems that were designed decades ago, thanks to the availability of a broad range of applications to support sales activities and processes. In fact dozens of new types of sales applications are available to help sales focus on selling, which creates another issue. Where should sales organizations focus their limited resources and budgets?

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Alteryx’s Business Analytics Empowers New Generation of Data Artisans

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 1, 2012 3:51:30 PM

I attended the Alteryx user conference called Inspire 2012 (Twitter: #Inspire12)  in Denver this week. This fairly new analytics software company has been gaining customers in a range of brand-name organizations such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Supervalu, U.S. Cellular and VF Corp. The company focuses on meeting the needs of analysts across the business analytic spectrum including a geographic and location context for simplifying the analytic tasks and processes for the needs of business at the strategic and operational level.

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Ventana Research’s Business Technology Innovation Research Agenda for 2012

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 24, 2012 6:37:26 AM

Now finishing our first decade of providing research and education for business and IT professionals, we at Ventana Research have learned what it takes to improve the value of processes and performance in many industries. This is no easy task; it requires thorough and wide-ranging research on the best (and worst) practices that organizations need to understand as they try to increase their competency and effectiveness – and our firm is committed to that work. For 2012 we are moving forward from the business technology revolution agenda we outlined at this time last year, including business analytics, business collaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media. We have added a focus on big data, a trend that has reinvigorated the dialog about managing large volumes of data and how to use it effectively. Our research framework spans a diverse set of research agendas and practices from the viewpoints of the lines of business, IT and specific industries and knits together the necessary strategies and best practices across the four critical aspects of people, processes, information and technology.

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Informatica Advances Business with Data Integration for Social Media

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 22, 2012 11:12:49 AM

Even in this recessionary economy Informatica has been defying spending constraints. At its annual analyst summit (Twitter #INFAAnalyst) the company unveiled its growth strategies. Informatica has more than 4,500 customers for data integration and information management and now is turning its attention to the data in social media networks. Our firm has already identified social media as a key technology that businesses must embrace over the next decade to improve competitiveness or just keep up. Informatica already helps IT departments become better data stewards through a variety of methods and supports the executive mission of the CIO. My colleague David Menninger will comment on its vision and direction for its data integration portfolio; I will focus on its decision to use its technology for social media, which is part of a forthcoming product roadmap. Regarding the importance of embracing social media in this area, see David’s research and educational agenda in information management for 2011.

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A Taleo Tale: Oracle Reaches for Cloud Credibility

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 10, 2012 2:57:48 PM

The acquisition frenzy in the enterprise software market continues. The announced acquisition of Taleo by Oracle will remove the independence of another successful cloud-based software company. Publicly traded Taleo (NASDAQ: TLEO) provides talent management applications on a rental cloud computing basis. Acquiring Taleo, which by all accounts has done a good job of growing the recruiting and applicant sourcing software business in a scalable cloud environment, was too good for Oracle to pass up. SAP’s much costlier acquisition of SuccessFactors, which I assessed clearly placed more pressure on Oracle to do something rather than nothing.

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Actuate Establishes Performance Analytics for Business Excellence

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 2, 2012 9:56:51 AM

Business analytics and big data are common topics of conversation in the business and information technology markets, but these technologies are only building blocks to help businesses manage performance. Entering the conversation is Actuate, which for years has had a performance management division that provides software for managing progress toward objectives through a variety of analytic and action-focused techniques. The company has announced release of a promising new generation of its enterprise software, Actuate BIRT Performance Analytics.

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Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile: Hands-On Review Finds Shortfalls

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 31, 2012 8:09:29 AM

The stakes have never been higher for suppliers of interactive business intelligence. Our benchmark research on business analytics finds that businesses overwhelmingly (89% of participants) want simpler analytics and metrics, and usability (57%) and functionality (47%) are the two most important evaluation criteria according to our Value Index vendor and product assessment methodology. In addition our business analytics research, 38 percent said that accessing analytics and metrics via mobile technology is important or very important.

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MicroStrategy Infuses Social Media Intelligence into Marketing

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 27, 2012 1:54:56 PM

I attended the annual MicroStrategy World in Miami to check on the progress this company known for business intelligence (BI) software has made in expanding into a mobile platform and tools company that also announced a new version of its products. While MicroStrategy’s efforts in mobile BI and cloud computing are ahead of its competitors in the BI industry, they’re not its only expansion points for enterprise software.

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Top Ten Best Practices Learned from 2011 Technology Market Chaos and Stupidity

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 30, 2011 4:31:46 PM

While we will wait until January to publish our recommendations for the new year, we can digest the lessons learned in 2011 within the technology markets and with Ventana Research right now. That’s appropriate, since we at Ventana Research are committed to helping you with solid information and education. We help thousands of organizations make a better, faster, safer, smarter and more cost-effective environment for leveraging technology to its fullest extent. Our benchmark research worldwide across thousands of organizations of all sizes and vertical industries has found there is a lot more room for improvement than most realize or are addressing.

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Salesforce.com looking for a Successful Rypple in Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 20, 2011 12:51:51 PM

Salesforce.com made a surprising announcement of its agreement to acquire Rypple, a software company that defines its product as a social goals application. I call this a surprise because although Salesforce has been extending its reach beyond sales and customer service to IT in providing a platform, tools and a database for building applications and storing data in the cloud, until now it has not entered directly into other lines of business. After its annual Dreamforce conference last summer, I analyzed the company’s strategy and products. Now I want to consider what this acquisition means for Salesforce and the human capital management market.

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SAP Aims to be More Cloudy and Mobile in 2012 and Beyond

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 19, 2011 3:37:44 PM

I attended the annual SAP Influencer Summit (Twitter #SAPSummit), at which executives from SAP meet with analysts and customers from around the world to discuss the company’s direction. Pointing out that in 2012 SAP will reach its 40th anniversary of operations, chief communications officer Hubertus Kulpus and chief marketing officer Jonathan Becher kicked off the summit, then passed the microphones to co-CEO Jim Hagemann-Snabe and CTO Vishal Sikka for overviews of the business and technology strategies. They presented a well-rehearsed dialogue on SAP’s definition of its software business as being in two areas, the “system of record” and “system of engagement”; the first term describes its transactional applications and the second its portfolio of business analytics.

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NICE to Acquire Merced Systems for Excellence in Customer Service and Sales

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 6, 2011 11:45:21 PM

NICE Systems last week announced an agreement to acquire Merced Systems, a provider of business applications for customer service and sales organizations. This acquisition slipped by with little fanfare, but it marks a significant milestone for NICE, a major provider of applications and technology for call centers and a player in their evolution into multichannel contact centers. Building on a good 2010, as my colleague Richard Snow noted, NICE expects to reach almost $800 million of revenue in 2011, which would make it one of the largest companies in its segment. NICE has made multiple acquisitions to build its software portfolio, including purchases of Actimize, CyberTech, eGlue and others mentioned below. It recently won our 2011 Ventana Research Leadership Award in the contact center category with its customer deployment at Alliance Data. NICE Systems plans to have Merced Systems as a foundation of its enterprise systems and a complement to its contact center workforce optimization offering. This purchase builds on its other acquisitions, including FizzBack recently and IEX and Performix in 2006, which helped NICE establish its customer service and back office agent performance management software. That area has not grown as quickly as NICE would like, mostly due to marketing that was not aggressive enough in attracting customers. NICE recently rebranded its NICE SmartCenter for helping agents, as Richard noted, and is leveraging its assets into the back office, which he also assessed. Our benchmark research on contact center technology found that companies’ priorities for future investments match up well with NICE Systems’ focuses on expanding customer service agent applications and analytics applications.

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SAP Spends Big on SuccessFactors for Cloud Computing and Talent Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 5, 2011 12:14:01 PM

In a move to invigorate adoption of its cloud computing and talent management applications, SAP has announced its intent to acquire SuccessFactors – a deal valued at US$3.4 billion . SAP’s years of development and business efforts have produced only mediocre results in customer growth and revenue in cloud computing for human capital management comparably to its expectations and others in the market. In a teleconference SAP and SuccessFactors executives hyped the potential of the combined organizations. SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott said that it will become a “Cloud Powerhouse” and a “Unbeatable Force” and “will become the number-one cloud computing HCM solution in the cloud – period.” This may overstate the case: SuccessFactors is unproven as a power in cloud computing beyond the appeal of its own applications for human capital and HR. It can’t compare, for example, to the reach of Salesforce.com and its Force.com and application ecosystems like that in salesmarketing and other people-related application areas nor provide a platform and tools supporting collaboration and mobility.

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Kronos Puts Workers and Managers in Touch

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 11, 2011 12:43:23 PM

At its 2011 KronosWorks annual user conference, the workforce management application provider advanced its agenda with the introduction of new applications to further its global presence. From my visit, and from looking back at my analysis of its 2010conference, it seems the company’s focus is to simplify management of an hourly workforce.

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SumTotal Systems Optimizes The Use of Human Capital

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 11, 2011 11:58:22 AM

I just attended the first-ever analyst summit (Twitter #SumAS11) of SumTotal Systems to learn more about the company’s people and products since my in-depth analysis from earlier in the year. This key player in the business applications market offers a portfolio of applications in HRMS, workforce management and talent management, pieced together over several years with financing from its owner, Vista Equity Partners. This has been a busy year, as SumTotal acquired GeoLearning, Accero and CyberShift to gain entry into the expense and workforce management application markets.

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Workday Rising while Oracle Sleeps in the Clouds

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 28, 2011 12:04:43 PM

As Workday held its annual Workday Rising conference this week, it’s a good time to note the accomplishments of the company and to provide a fair and balanced coverage that has yet to be spoken by my industry peers for some reason. Co-founder and co-CEO David Duffield, who founded PeopleSoft, champions a set of core values in its culture and leads a workforce that has built a new generation of ERP applications for deployment in the cloud computing environment. The suite brings together human capital management (HCM) applications to manage absence, benefits, compensation, goals, performance, succession and career planning, along with payroll; accounting applications for general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable and cash management; and spend management applications for procurement and expenses including labor. Workday prides itself on the innovative design of its application technology, compared to the on-premises approach of PeopleSoft (now part of Oracle). It has received significant financial investment to support development, including $85 million in recent Series F financing, which indicates support for its approach.

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Marketing Executives Aren’t Ready for the Social Explosion of Data

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 27, 2011 3:09:43 AM

I had a chance to review the results of an interesting new global study of chief marketing officers (CMOs) by IBM, and I want to comment on some of its findings. Adding to the pressures facing the CMO today are new challenges in brand promotion and the growing impact of consumer sentiment expressed in several channels, including social media. The research found these to be the top two concerns in marketing and that 65 percent of organizations are not prepared to deal with them. My investigations lead me to agree with these findings.

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IBM Brings Business Analytics to Apple iPad

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 27, 2011 1:47:56 AM

Fulfilling its intention to make it easier to access and use analytics and business intelligence, IBM released its Cognos Mobile application natively for the Apple iPad. Of course IBM is not the first to release a native application for the tablet, and many might say that it is late in doing so, but in reality the market for dedicated applications on tablets is just heating up. The adoption rate of the iPad as the tablet of choice for business continues to grow, and while statistics are not yet available our research has found a groundswell of interest this year and last among businesses in mobility for analytics and BI. In this context, the mobile app is significant for IBM Cognos. It has delivered software for mobile technology including smartphones for over a decade, but the new application was carefully designed to establish a foundation for upcoming incremental releases in the tablet format.

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SuccessFactors Takes Learning to a New Plateau

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 19, 2011 10:53:22 AM

Attendees at the SuccessFactors Insights conference and those of us on Twitter socializing with the Insights11 hashtag in San Diego this week was designed for Plateau customers who came to the final conference that was scheduled prior to its acquisition by SuccessFactors. The conference provided educational and customer content in an agenda focused on developments in the previous Plateau learning management system (LMS) and new products that SuccessFactors is integrating with it. SuccessFactors brings significant number of assets that the Plateau technology and people can leverage from its global scale and operations to the product release and customer operations centers for cloud computing delivery of its applications.

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Hiring Goes Digital with HireVue

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 17, 2011 11:32:53 AM

A vendor I have been tracking and got to examine at the recent HR Technology Conference has a tool to help businesses improve their talent management that I had profiled this company in my talent management guide for the eventHireVue’s Digital Interview Platform records interviews and enables hiring managers to review candidates’ responses to critical questions.

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Visier Is a New Force in Workforce Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 7, 2011 12:16:06 PM

In the last year some software vendors have been developing a new generation of workforce analytics that leaves pie and bar charts behind in their dashboards and reports in favor of a more intuitive approach. One such company, Visier,is now demonstrating such a fresh approach, which exemplifies what business analytics in general and especially those used to optimize and understand the workforce should look like. I spent time at the HR Technology Conference and Expo in Las Vegas this week reviewing the software and talking with the development team to learn about the company and its products.

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Is Oracle Social Network Worth a Look?

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 7, 2011 9:27:32 AM

Oracle unveiled its Social Network at Open World, but it seems most in the industry weren’t aware of it – or maybe Oracle does not want  them to pay much attention to it. My synopsis is that Oracle Social Network is definitely a work in progress that, even by Oracle own yardsticks of marketing and accessibility, is not ready to for enterprise use.

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Cloudy Forecast for Oracle Fusion for CRM and HCM

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 7, 2011 8:44:34 AM

I did not go to Oracle OpenWorld this year because it seemed the company was fixated on appliances and technology with little  emphasize on its Fusion applications business, which the focus on business is a major interest of our firm. Based on the reports of my colleagues on its applications discussion (See: “Apps Hard to Find at Oracle Open World“) and Oracle Exalytics (See: “Oracle Unveils BI Appliance Called Exalytics“) and my review of Oracle’s online materials and keynotes, I was right to skip it. The week was full of diatribes about appliances and infrastructure, while applications played second fiddle. This is a longstanding imbalance for Oracle, perhaps understandable given its history and the need to build revenue from its expensive Sun Microsystems hardware acquisition.

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The Unofficial Talent Management Guide for HR Technology Conference

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 3, 2011 11:55:33 AM

The HR Technology Conference and Expo in Las Vegas that begins today will showcase an array of new applications for talent management. The array of applications and advancements to help human resources professionals is evolving dramatically, and this is a place for HR and workforce management professionals to find new methods that help increase productivity and optimize business outcomes. The five business technologyinnovations that will be vitally important in this decade for HR as well as other lines of business: They are cloud computing, social media, mobility, analytics and collaboration. If you want to read what is new in these areas, you can read my business technology guide to the conference. Each of these when integrated with talent management processes can improve the potential of your workforce and help recruit and retain talent.

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The Unofficial Business Technology Guide for HR Technology Conference

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 3, 2011 11:38:31 AM

The HR Technology Conference and Expo in Las Vegas that begins today will showcase an array of new business technology innovations for human capital management and talent management. The business technology to help human resources professionals is evolving dramatically, and this is a place for HR and workforce management professionals to find new methods that help increase productivity and optimize business outcomes. Early this year our firm defined five business technology innovations that will be vitally important in this decade for HR as well as other lines of business: They are cloud computing, social media, mobility, analytics and collaboration. Each of these when integrated with business and workforce processes can improve worker/manager interactions, and when combined they can have a widespread impact across the enterprise.

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Dayforce Engages Workforces for Higher Productivity

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 30, 2011 2:45:03 AM

Improving worker/manager collaboration becomes a top priority as organizations realize the impact of such collaboration on workforce productivity and profitability. One way to enhance that collaboration is to make tasks such as scheduling, time and attendance and task management accessible through smartphones and tablets. The management team at Dayforce has experience with workforce management applications and now into the next generation of collaboration and mobility. The company uses innovative Web technology to make its workforce management applications easy to use, and is able to demonstrate the value of the monthly and annualized time its approach saves over that of others.

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Excentive Provides a Simpler Path to Total Compensation Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 30, 2011 2:26:56 AM

Retaining talent and managing financials related to compensation should be a top priority for the HR and finance functions of companies, and many of them realize this. In our recent benchmark research in total compensation management, 72 percent of participants said it’s important or very important to have a compensation system aligned to their processes. One newer provider to the market, Excentive, started in 2002 in Europe and expanded globally in 2009. Its Excentive Compensation Cockpit supplies more than just a managerial view of compensation; it’s a total compensation management application that enables users to design and model compensation across an entire workforce or for the specific needs of the sales and service lines of business.

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Proposal Software Simplifies Key Aspects of Sales

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 25, 2011 11:39:48 PM

Sales proposals can determine whether a deal is booked or lost. In most organizations the process of creating and delivering a proposal is manual and one-off, with many potential places for mistakes. This lack of rigor and efficiency impairs many organizations’ ability to leverage their resources. Proposal Software helps sales organizations with an application called PMAPS that addresses sales management and operations. 

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WorkForce Software Can Simplify Managers and Workers Lives

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 22, 2011 9:10:10 AM

A key component of workforce management software is to aid in scheduling and tracking time and attendance, streamlining interactions between managers and employees regarding these aspects of the job and promoting compliance with corporate and regulatory policies. WorkForce Software has been growing rapidly over the last decade while meeting these needs with an application suite that covers issues from leave management to case management. Its product helps businesses deal with overlapping regulations from federal and state governments, union contracts and corporate-level policies, and is being deployed in industries such as education, utilities, banking, the public sector, entertainment and transportation, especially in midsize organizations looking for workforce efficiency. The company is expanding its global reach through its partners and distribution channel.  

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Mercer Updates Total Compensation Management To Help Retain Talent

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 19, 2011 12:21:20 PM

To retain talent, organizations must ensure that their workforce’s compensation is comparable to that of their industry peers. As part of this effort, they should integrate compensation reviews with goal and performance reviews to ensure employees are paid their fair market value; otherwise the best talent will become a flight risk. Many organizations understand this; in our performance management for talent management benchmark research, two-thirds said they want to integrate compensation with the review process. But most companies have more to do; they need to establish a continuous process that compares all information on new hires, promotions and market events, at least as part of an annual performance review or preferably every quarter. They should not delay change until employee feedback or exit interviews indicate that being underpaid is a primary reason for people leaving.  

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Taleo Innovates Talent Management with Social Media and Mobile Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 13, 2011 4:18:52 PM

At this year’s Taleo World conference in San Francisco, more than 1,600 Taleo customers learned about the company and its suite of talent management applications. A major theme of the conference was the company’s investment in mobility and social media and the intersection of those trends with collaboration tools.

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Salesforce Presents New Social Enterprise with Chatter, Mobility and Data

Posted by Mark Smith on Sep 2, 2011 12:45:50 PM

At the Dreamforce conference, Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) CEO Marc Benioff unveiled the latest evolution of the company’s strategy and supporting technology for cloud computing and mobile technologies. Its aim is to enable businesses to engage with customers and prospects via social media channels – what Salesforce calls the “social enterprise” – and empower employee and customer social networks to operate individually and together. Note I did not mention CRM, which doesn’t have a role in this platform for basic interactions with prospects and customers and is accompanied by a large ecosystem of partners that provide dedicated marketing and contact center applications. As summarized in its announcement, Salesforce’s strategy is clearly different from that of others in the applications market, including Oracle and SAP, which have products for the cloud computing environment and have made strides into integrating collaboration and social media capabilities into their applications.

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Varicent Improves Sales Operations Efficiency

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 31, 2011 10:01:16 AM

Sales organizations strive to maximize the performance of their staffs to meet quotas and revenue targets in an efficient manner. This focus is part of my agenda to help organizations innovate and maximize revenue in sales. To achieve this requires automation of various sales activities including compensation, incentives, quota development, territory optimization, channel management, analytics and planning. Varicent is focused on these aspects of sales, offering software deployable in three ways: rented in the cloud, hosted for easier management or purchased for use inside the organization. My last analysis of the company and its products was part of our 2011 Value Index for Sales Performance Management; in it we rated Varicent a Hot Vendor overall across our seven evaluation categories applied to its application suite. That analysis included our analysis of Varicent SPM version 7 that made significant advances in the use and process of managing compensation and incentives but also the rest of their application portfolio from territory management, sales quota management and channel management. 

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Get the Most from Dreamforce for Your Sales Force

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 30, 2011 12:31:04 PM

Salesforce.com’s 2011 Dreamforce conference is under way. If you’re in sales and you use the company’s application, here’s how to gain the most value from your time at the conference. 

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Xactly What Sales Needs To Improve

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 30, 2011 9:48:29 AM

In addressing the needs of their sales and operations teams to automate and improve performance, many organizations turn to providers of sales applications designed for specific activities. Many of these activities, including sales compensation, incentives, commissions, quotas, territories and others, Xactly has been delivering for years. This company is no newcomer to the market, with significant experience in meeting the needs of small to midsize sales organizations, and more recently addressing the needs of larger ones. 

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Gaining Sales Traction with Merced Systems

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 30, 2011 9:23:37 AM

Looking to make your sales force more effective by automating its operations? Merced Systems can provide the traction your sales team needs. The company has been providing applications for more than a decade to customer service and more recently sales organizations, helping both measure and manage performance. Several years ago Merced Systems made a substantial investment to expand to the sales organization with new applications and now offers analytics and reporting, compensation and incentives, and coaching and talent development.  

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Cloud9 Delivers Sales Forecasting

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 29, 2011 10:45:59 AM

If you want to hit the booking and revenue targets required to operate a business, you have to manage your sales forecast and pipeline. Optimally you should be able to monitor and act upon them any day of the week and make adjustments whenever you need to. Unfortunately, most organizations have to wait until they finish their manual efforts at the end of the month or quarter, or they miss critical changes in deals and behavior because they rely only on reporting from their sales force automation (SFA) software.  

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Here’s What Marketers Should Do at Dreamforce

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 29, 2011 10:03:25 AM

The largest cloud computing conference, Dreamforce 2011, operated by Salesforce.com, is now upon us. This year attendance is estimated to be over 40,000, and there will be more technology- and developer-focused attendees and dialogue than marketing material. Unlike past years, I expect marketing professionals to be a small percentage of attendees, so I thought I would offer them a guide through the circus of activities at the conference.

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Qvidian: A New Player in Sales Efficiency and Effectiveness

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 26, 2011 9:24:28 AM

Qvidian entered the market for applications in sales performance management in 2011. The company, formed from the merger of The Sant Corp. and Kadient, has introduced a new suite of applications for proposals and playbooks that sales departments should examine if they’re looking to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. These applications are part of what we at Ventana Research call a sales performance management blueprint that helps optimize sales related activities and processes. 

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ADP’s Provides Tools to Simplify Workforce Mobility

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 25, 2011 9:35:22 AM

I recently got an update on mobile applications and strategy for smartphones from ADP, the $9 billion provider of applications and services in human resources, payroll and benefits. By acquiring and partnering with organizations, ADP has become the largest provider in this segment while focusing on providing added value and new offerings to its customers. For some companies, being such a large business  human capital management and talent management software could inhibit its agility, but ADP has quickly made progress in bringing its first generation of applications to the Apple iOS platform for iPhone.  

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Can We Trust Hewlett-Packard?

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 19, 2011 1:53:22 PM

Just when it seemed that Hewlett-Packard’s new management team led by CEO Leo Apotheker had a growing and solidifying technology agenda that included mobile computing, yesterday it all changed.

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eThority 5 Brings Analytics to Life

Posted by Mark Smith on Aug 17, 2011 11:48:29 AM

It is evident that business analytics is now a core business process in most organizations, but as our benchmark research on the topic shows, many have a lot of room to improve in how they use it. A dedicated provider of analytics tools, eThority continues to advance its technology to supply flexibility for the needs of a range of professionals from business management to analysts. 

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SHRM Helps Socialize Human Resources

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 1, 2011 12:46:03 PM

I had the pleasure to drop into the 63rd annual conference of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in Las Vegas where over 18,000 human resources professionals came to learn, engage with peers and also enjoy a variety of entertainment. It was the definitely the place to be if you wanted to mix Hollywood with HR. From Sir Richard Branson in Sunday’s opener to music from Keith Urban to controversial political commentator Arianna Huffington and finally actor Michael J. Fox for the closing keynote, the HR professionals got to enjoy a range of interesting perspectives; it seemed like a good outlet for a segment of professionals who often do not get enough credit in business.

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Two Elephants Face Off: Hadoop and Oracle

Posted by Mark Smith on Jul 1, 2011 12:22:43 PM

I stopped into the Yahoo Hadoop Summit (Twitter: #HadoopSummit) to see how far the open source Hadoop technology has progressed. This open source community has been advancing for years with support from Internet titans like Yahoo, eBay and Facebook. Hadoop, as my colleague David Menninger has written, is now ready to play a large role as organizations try to cope with data on a large scale and solidify their information management agenda.

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PeopleFluent Brings New Face and Mobility to Talent Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 28, 2011 4:05:26 PM

This week the management of Peopleclick Authoria renamed the company PeopleFluent, reoriented its vision and launched a new suite of applications. This effort is intended to hone its focus on the intersecting aspects of talent management and respond to the increasing importance of mobility in this field. This move indicates the dynamic changes that are occurring as the software industry tries to meet the expectations of the next generation of workers and managers. PeopleFluent will rely on not just the rich history of Peopleclick and Authoria in the talent management market but also the recent acquisition of Aquire that brings it workforce analytics; its goal is to further expand its customer base with technology that provides the most usable applications in this market. Company rebranding efforts are always risky, but this one will be worth watching.

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Business Analysts, Take Control of Your Analytic Destiny

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 24, 2011 11:40:28 AM

The recent buzz around business analytics has generated resurgent conversation about what businesses need from their data to optimize business processes and make better decisions. Our benchmark research on business analytics in more than 2,500 organizations produced unprecedented information about business and IT usage and competency with analytics. It confirmed that effective use of business analytics requires a balance of people and skills, processes, information and technology not just to provide capabilities but also to engage business analysts and users across the organization. The research also identified significant challenges facing organizations in terms of inefficient analytics processes and ineffective technology. 

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Information Builders Advances Business Intelligence for Smartphones and Tablets

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 17, 2011 3:35:04 PM

At this year’s Information Builders Summit, the company’s annual conference for users and analysts (Twitter: #Summit2011) in Dallas, the long-time supplier of business intelligence and information management software showed how it has been able to sustain double-digit revenue growth thanks to highly accessible and scalable software that operates on a variety of platforms and data sources. Its recent expansion into information management, master data management and integration helps organizations link data to business analytics quickly – something our benchmark research has found to be essential. It also is continuing to advance BI on mobile devices.

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Pitney Bowes Committed to Customer Communications and Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Jun 10, 2011 4:07:25 PM

The Pitney Bowes Business Insight (PBBI) analyst summit and conference this week provided an opportunity to hear about the $5 billion technology provider’s strategy to become “the leader in customer communications.” This term makes sense when applied to a division of the company that brought the efficiency of the postal meter to mailrooms around the world. Of course a lot has changed for the company and for business since then. Today parent company Pitney Bowes envisions success in a future with limited or no print and mail business.

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SAP’s Opens Road for HANA and Big Data at SAPPHIRE NOW

Posted by Ventana Research on May 26, 2011 4:21:24 PM

At this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference (Twitter: #SAPPHIRENOW) SAP demonstrated its in-memory computing technology and applications. SAP’s High Performance Analytic Application (HANA), which I think of as a high-availability network appliance, is part of the technology industry movement to increase the performance and scalability across a range of applications, from analytics to transactions, to drive timely insights on data or real-time interactions across a business value chain that includes everyone from customers to suppliers. As part of the in-memory computing initiative, SAP demonstrated its in-memory database, which uses a columnar data store that employs technology SAP acquired with the Sybase IQ product. As I noted before the conference, in-memory technology is part of a major new focus for this global business applications company.

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SAP Brews New Human Capital Management for the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on May 24, 2011 1:22:58 PM

At SAP’s annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference (Twitter: #SAPPHIRENOW) this month, the company introduced a new portfolio of human capital management applications that will be available on many devices and added mobility options for users, including offerings for smartphones and tablets and cloud computing. This move beyond the traditional on-premises approach of SAP’s ERP Human Capital Management product suite is a critical step forward for SAP if it is to remain relevant for HR organizations.

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RIM Has a BlackBerry and PlayBook for Business

Posted by Mark Smith on May 24, 2011 1:20:46 PM

At its BlackBerry World conference earlier this month, RIM promoted its own tablet computer to challenge other providers’ tablet offerings. The BlackBerry PlayBook, which was unveiled at the beginning of 2011, addresses the growing demand for business mobility – a factor I noted as one of the five key business technology innovations of this year.

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SAP Sales OnDemand Comes Alive in the Cloud and Mobile at SAPPHIRE NOW

Posted by Mark Smith on May 21, 2011 10:06:55 AM

At the SAPPHIRE NOW conference this week, SAP released the production version of the cloud-based Sales OnDemand software that it unveiled earlier in the year. There has been a lot of the esoteric commentary of SAP Sales OnDemand from those that exclusively cover the IT industry. Unfortunately the majority of them have never worked in sales or held a quota that prevents a provide a deeper perspective on the relevance to the sales organization and what it can provide to existing SAP customers or those evaluating it for the first time. I covered some critical perspectives in my research agenda on sales as a background to my analysis of this new offering.

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The New Mobile SAP Evolves Stronger from Sybase Investment

Posted by Mark Smith on May 20, 2011 11:47:29 PM

At the SAPPHIRE NOW annual conference, (Twitter: #SAPPHIRENOW) the advantage of the mobile technology SAP gained through its acquisition of Sybase is becoming evident. In a blog before the conference I touched on the importance of mobility to the company’s future. From walking around, assessing keynotes and sessions and talking to companies using SAP, it seems that the big bet that SAP made on mobility is paying off.

One year ago at this annual conference SAP announced that it would enlist the people and technology of Sybase in executing its larger application strategy. Collaboration with the Sybase additions in areas from analytics and databases to mobility is now proving integral to SAP’s efforts. The company insists that mobile devices are the new desktop for the enterprise, and the rapid adoption curve is justifying that statement.

The acquisition of Sybase allows SAP to add sophistication to its infrastructure and enhance tool and application development for mobile platforms. Sybase has a heritage of mobilizing information for access and commerce, which makes for a sound partnership to advance SAP’s business applications. Sybase has been positioning itself as platform-neutral in providing support for the range of mobile technology stacks from Apple, Google and Android, RIM and HP and Microsoft. As well it has been the major and in many cases sole provider of the underlying routing software of SMS and data across wireless networks.

SAP itself made its initial bets on Apple, with the iPad as the primary platform for its applications, and RIM, for smartphones for internal employees – though the success of Android appears to have SAP and Sybase busy examining growing its support and diversity of mobile technologies. Our benchmark research into current mobile technologies and demand shows a base of legacy Microsoft and RIM customers, but many organizations are reevaluating their mobile technologies. SAP still has not employed the Sybase technology to secure iPhones for use internally, but that could happen. SAP did support its long-time partner RIM by demonstrating its applications on the new RIM Playbook. Though the Playbook addresses Apple’s lack of Adobe Flash support and multitasking and tethering limitation, it is still working through some challenges.

I asked SAP and Sybase executives about the absence of HP and Microsoft mobile technologies at the conference. Their obviously rehearsed response emphasized the rapid adoption of Apple in business, the continuing use of RIM within specific industries and SAP’s plans for supporting the Android ecosystem. My checks among the large and midsize application and tool software companies finds the same indifference to HP and Microsoft, due to their lack of penetration into business and challenges associated with their shifting technology stack. Microsoft, which has begun to stabilize Windows Mobile after some turbulent years in technology transition, is now busy with its strategic partnership with Nokia. While that effort is rumored to be leading to an acquisition, it is clearly a distraction from the focus on the business and enterprise ecosystem that Microsoft must apply to recover the market share it has lost in that area.

In new software news, SAP introduced a collection of mobile applications that supports field service workers with alerts, orders, visit mapping and post-visit debriefing. For the retail industry the company provides support for field sales activities from visits, surveys and account management to product and category reviews. The plant and maintenance operations team can have mobile access to work orders, location, inventory and partner and customer information.

While SAP was demonstrating these industry-specific applications, it was also talking about mobile applications for employee self-service for leave requests and time capture and for managers or HR staff doing employee lookups and approvals. Mobile capabilities for procurement activities are also in the works, along with manager and employee operations in travel and expenses, and field sales functions for accessing SAP CRM for product availability, notification, order status and customer lookup.

All things said, Apple remains the platform SAP has progressed farthest with. SAP has been steadily providing iPhone access to its applications, such as SAP Business ByDesign. It has extended its cloud-based platform to support SAP Sales OnDemand on the iPhone and iPad. In the Apple application store you can also find SAP Commissions Check, a simple way to help sales folks check their progress towards quota and commission, along with collaborative technology called SAP StreamWork.

The SAP BusinessObjects Mobile tool works with RIM BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile. For native support for SAP Business Intelligence for Apple iPhone or iPad you can use the SAP BusinessObjects Explorer and work with SAP on configuring it.

SAP also announced version 2.0 of its Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP), which is a Java-based application development platform for building mobile applications that can be deployed to diverse mobile platforms. The software hooks to SAP connectors and single-sign-on services and supports encrypted HTML5 Web storage and transport. This version adds a hybrid Web container that programmers develop to and utilizes HTML5, JavaScript and CSS, and it has hooks to native mobile operating system specifics in its SDK and user interface framework. The SDK and native support for Apple iOS, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile will be released first, with Android support coming later.

Mobile applications will introduce new challenges with application and information lifecycle management within SUP. Sybase executives did not reveal much substance on how they are going to support mobility from within SUP, but support for mobile platforms will become more important as the volume of development increases. Version 2.1 of SUP is due later this summer and will be critical for deeper integration between SUP and the SAP NetWeaver platform, and for the development of mobile applications across analytics and BI, as well as the broader portfolio of industry and lines of business. Sybase and SAP are betting they can simplify mobile application development with a common platform while leveraging the native experience of the mobile technology provider. This development strategy is good for simplifying product development and for IT, but it’s not clear yet how it will come to fruition.

Organizations that want to develop mobile applications will have to use SUP as the preferred platform and will need trained IT resources who understand Java SDK development. Beyond traditional application development is the need to provide line-of-business and industry-specific applications that offer a range of information from content and data to prebuilt analytics. The current approach with SUP is very technically focused and not focused on empowering business to assemble and publish information into applications for mobile devices. For SAP the current effort seems to be on providing tools that partners can use to develop mobile applications. This means that potential SAP customers may need to look elsewhere for assembling information or deploying analytic applications. Many organizations have been looking at alternatives from MicroStrategy, which has released a mobile platform that my colleague David Menninger covered, and provides a BI application assembly environment. Another alternative is the new MeLLmo Roambi Flow technology I just assessed, which can assemble and publish information or analytics in a digital magazine or newspaper format.

Overall, the outlook for the combined company is optimistic. Under SAP, Sybase gains significant industry and business expertise in applications, which was one of its largest challenges. SAP has committed significant resources to work with Sybase to address this new market demand. Sybase is also helping bring commerce to bear in mobile applications with its Sybase365 offering, which adds secure and scalable mobile commerce services into the realm of mobile application development.

Mobile interfacing to SAP applications was everywhere at the conference, with dozens of customers and partners demonstrating mobile applications. Mobility is a smart place for SAP to invest and a way to differentiate its application portfolio from those of competitors such as Oracle and Infor.

SAP was clearly looking for assistance from its partner ecosystem to further its mobile strategy and help organizations adapt to a potentially complex environment of mobile technologies. Dozens of partners were at SAPPHIRE NOW. In one major move SAP announced a partnership with Accenture to further its global presence with consultants and support of enterprise deployments.

We at Ventana Research are already working on benchmark research on the competency of organizations to advance into mobile business and meet the challenges of transitioning people and processes to change how they work. SAP has made a significant commitment to mobility and is ahead of most of its peers as it brings to market a new portfolio of mobile-based applications. Now it will need to ensure it does not make mobile application development too complicated for developers or too complex to leverage the native experience of the mobile technologies. If the applications are too generic in their experience or take too long to develop they could fail to appeal to individuals and the workforce who are adopting Apple and Android-based smart phones and tablets. SAP has made significant progress over the last year, and I expect the company to make even more progress over the next year.

Regards,

Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

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Roambi Innovates Mobile Industry with Simpler Information and Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on May 20, 2011 11:35:00 PM

To maintain a productive workforce, businesses need to be able to put information in front of users at every level, from executives to front-line managers. Mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets can provide analytics and business intelligence (BI), but so far this market niche has been dominated by publishing dashboards and reports that conform to the limits of mobile platforms. Analytics and BI software developers usually opt to publish charts and tables to Web pages on a smartphone or tablet. However, the usability of mobile-based Web browsers leaves a lot to be desired, which is particularly unfortunate in light of our recent benchmark research in business analytics, which found that usability was the number one consideration in 57 percent of organizations, while 89 percent said mobile applications need to be simpler to understand and use. A company called MeLLmo appears poised to capitalize on the demand for accessible mobile BI information.

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SAP’s New Management and Products Faces the Future at SAPPHIRE NOW

Posted by Mark Smith on May 13, 2011 11:13:48 AM

It is no easy task to change the culture of a global technology company, especially one that has a very demanding customer base with high expectations for advancing its widespread product lines. This is the challenge that SAP faces as it transitions from a company of three-letter-acronym collections of applications including CRM, SCM and ERP to one that focuses on specific business processes and needs. (My colleague recently discussed the problems in forklift migrations of ERP.)  This transition is necessitated by the shift of purchasing power and influence for applications back to business after over a decade of IT control. This alone might not seem like a drastic change, but reframing its entire dialogue and sales approach is not simple for a company the size of SAP. It must continue to grow through new applications and substantive upgrades of existing ones and cannot rely just on maintenance fees from the installed base. Over the last several months we’ve kept an eye on SAP as it builds up of its annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference, investigating changes in products and management. I’d like to share some of our firm’s analysis with those of you who have invested with or are looking to invest in SAP.

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MarkLogic Revs Up Information Applications with New Energy and Leadership

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 28, 2011 1:31:35 PM

At this year’s user conference, it was clear that change is afoot at MarkLogic, whose technology platform enables users to access information more easily accessible within applications and devices. Last month the board of directors appointed a new CEO, Ken Bado, created the new position of chief marketing officer (CMO) and named a head of global services and alliances, all within three weeks. The Silicon Valley software company has been growing in the last several years but appears not fast enough for its board members. There have been a lot of advancements since my in-depth analysis in 2010 and at last years conference.

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Datawatch Offers Shorter Path from Data to Information

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 21, 2011 10:45:55 PM

Turning data into information for taking actions and making decisions has bedeviled businesses throughout the computer age. Many organizations have data in dozens of applications and legacy systems along with many reports in various business intelligence systems. The challenge is to get data from each of the reports and assemble it into contextualized views of information for particular business needs. In our benchmark research on what we call information applications, only 11 percent of organizations said they are satisfied with their existing efforts to do this; more than half of organizations see the current process as too slow and not adaptable to the changes that necessarily occur in assembling actionable information.

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The Agenda to Innovate and Maximize Revenue in Sales for 2011

Posted by Mark Smith on Apr 18, 2011 8:52:29 AM

The potential of any sales organization is measured by the people and the methods and technologies they use to sell products and services efficiently. Unfortunately, many organizations today still have not embraced new opportunities to improve the productivity and outcomes of their sales teams.

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HP’s New World Order according to Leo Apotheker

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 22, 2011 7:26:33 AM

The new CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Leo Apotheker, has unveiled his vision of the future in the consumer and enterprise markets. His announcement carried some suspense after interviews in which he said “HP has lost its soul” and added that he will “get rid of cynics” inside HP who try to undercut his mission. Now Leo has defined what his company calls Everybody On, which is described as “seamless, secure, context-aware experiences for a connected world.” He intends that HP will reposition itself in providing a new generation of cloud services to interconnect its software and technology assets. HP of course is no small technology provider, with over $125 billion in revenue and a predominantly legacy and acquired software business worth over $6 billion. I want to provide some analysis of HP’s announcements in the context of what I see as the coming business technology innovations of this decade. My view overlaps with the HP vision. HP is expanding the territory of its business,  focusing less on the enterprise software business of database, middleware and applications and more on the management and security of cloud services and software.

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SAS Institute: The Multi-Billion Dollar Business Analytics Supplier

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 14, 2011 10:21:42 PM

The just-concluded SAS Institute analyst summit (Twitter: #SASSB) provided the annual update on the company’s performance, strategy, products and customers. My analysis of last year’s event talked about its continuation of its product roadmap to new customer acquisition and the broadening of its underlying platform, applications and vertical solutions. SAS is no small-time mover and shaker when it comes to the analytics industry; it extends from technology to tools and applications across industries, which adds up to $2.4 billion in revenue. SAS’s growth was worldwide, with Canada and Asia-Pacific delivering the largest percentage revenue growth and Europe, Middle East and Africa representing the largest revenue for the company at more than $1 billion in revenue; U.S. revenue came in slightly lower.

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Aquire Brings Fresh Face to Workforce Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 10, 2011 8:31:09 AM

The state of the economy has intensified scrutiny of organizations’ people assets, and so we’re seeing new dialogues about human capital management. Deriving full value from the people in a workforce requires more than just HR managing annual performance reviews or occasional scrutiny of the compensation processes for increases to merit pay or incremental incentives. Investing wisely in workforce-related processes requires assessment and optimization  using analytics that can provide a lens on the past but more importantly can provide visibility into forward-looking results. This renewed focus on improving the workforce analytics fits with the findings of our recent benchmark on workforce analytics, which shows that workforce analytics are important to 89 percent of organizations. But using them efficiently and effectively is no easy task since spreadsheets are used in 62 percent of organizations.

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SAS Institute: The Multi-Billion Dollar Business Analytics Supplier

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 9, 2011 8:47:05 PM

The just-concluded SAS Institute analyst summit (Twitter: #SASSB) provided the annual update on the company’s performance, strategy, products and customers. My analysis of last year’s event talked about its continuation of its product roadmap to new customer acquisition and the broadening of its underlying platform, applications and vertical solutions. SAS is no small-time mover and shaker when it comes to the analytics industry; it extends from technology to tools and applications across industries, which adds up to $2.4 billion in revenue. SAS’s growth was worldwide, with Canada and Asia-Pacific delivering the largest percentage revenue growth and Europe, Middle East and Africa representing the largest revenue for the company at more than $1 billion in revenue; U.S. revenue came in slightly lower.

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Human Concepts Brings Workforce Analytics and Mobility to the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Mar 3, 2011 1:50:21 PM

Recently Human Concepts sold its personal organizational structure software OrgPlus to Administaff . Since it retains other products with the OrgPlus name, this step might seem puzzling, but it makes sense in terms of the company’s developing product strategy. The sale also frees Human Concepts to focus on organizations with more than 1,000 employees, where growth is more readily available. Human Concepts is experienced in the workforce management market; its customer and partner Zentiva Group won our firm’s 2010 Leadership Award in HR and Workforce Management. Late last year Human Concepts unveiled a new workforce analytics technology tool called Workforce Monitor. It uses the organizational chart as an analytical tool for more than display or monitoring of information – it can provide workforce analytics and planning to serve the needs not only of HR but of line-of-business management and analysts. The product does not just retrofit the limited capabilities of spreadsheets and presentations widely used for analytics, planning and publishing of workforce information. This is a valuable advance; our benchmark research in workforce analytics found that spreadsheets are used universally or regularly in 96 percent of HR organizations but that 39 percent of organizations are not satisfied with their technology and information is not actionable in more than half of organizations.

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SAP Retrofits Business Intelligence and Information Management to meet IT and Business Needs

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 25, 2011 12:43:48 AM

SAP has reached a critical milestone in launching version 4 of its business intelligence (BI) and enterprise information management (EIM) product suite from its SAP BusinessObjects portfolio. These offerings, currently in final beta testing, will be released as a collection of software products by midyear.

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Talent Technology Makes Generating Talent Efficient and Social

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 22, 2011 11:30:06 AM

The talent management software market has and continues to consolidate dramatically through acquisitions. The trend is to bring together processes and applications for hiring, onboarding, performance assessment, compensation, succession planning and analytics. As the race continues to attract customers and users by presenting the most integrated suite of applications, a new market segment has evolved in the shadows and is now taking the stage in talent management. Talent Technology, a vendor in this space, calls it talent generation; its function is to help companies identify the talent they require across all sources, broadcast job openings and promote the organization as an attractive workplace for the best talent. It relies on social media and Internet sites where jobs are posted. Doing this manually for one open position is easy, but Talent Technology’s just announced Talemetry Suite offers a unified and consistent method for recruiters and hiring managers to seek talent for any opening.

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The Diminishing Science of Research in Technology Analyst Firms

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 18, 2011 10:45:13 AM

The technology analyst industry has ended its barrage of exuberant predictions for the new year. After digesting all of these commentaries (some were a challenge, I admit), we need to stop our predicting and instead start a discussion about what all of us ought to be doing. From my perspective, that should be an annual statement of direction, what we here call the research agenda. I have decided it is time to remind all of us what this important activity is and why it is really important to see from industry analysts.

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The Business Technology Revolution in 2011

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 17, 2011 5:12:02 PM

The new year has brought a revolution in business technologies that allows enterprises to roll out new applications, processes and services in record time. What used to take a business six months to a year to develop and deploy – and not too long ago that was considered fast! – can now be done in a week or two, making enterprise application and business intelligence deployments of the recent past seem more like ancient history.

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Informatica Focuses Integration on Lines of Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Feb 8, 2011 5:32:41 PM

At this year’s Informatica industry analyst conference (Twitter: #INFAAnalyst) to update the research and industry analyst community on its data integration and information infrastructure products. Looking back on my analysis of the company’s 2010 analyst summit, I see Informatica has made significant progress in gaining adoption of its products and influencing the new business technology landscape. Strong performance across the financial, product and customer dimensions helped it generate more than $650 million in revenue last year . In an economy in which the technology sector as a whole fell short of financial targets and customer growth goals, Informatica proved that it is possible to profit from an integrated set of technologies that help IT departments rationalize systems and achieve efficiencies in data management across databases and applications.

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Social Media Ignorance in the IT Analyst Industry

Posted by Mark Smith on Jan 17, 2011 2:51:54 PM

Social media, the newest channel of communication across the Internet, is increasingly being used to influence, but also to deliver advice and research. I wrote about this revolution last year (See: “The Social Media Revolution in Industry Analyst Community”), reporting on the transformation that is underway and the work of our firm along with Altimeter Group and dozens of other active industry analysts. While some industry analysts are aggressively engaged in social media, using Twitter and producing blogs, there are many more who apparently do not see any value in the time and energy it takes to engage these new channels. Although the larger IT analyst firms – GartnerForrester, and IDC – have provided channels for their analysts to blog, only  a small percentage of analysts at these firms actually use them. It is useful that IDCForrester, and Gartner have provided a library of their analysts on Twitter that includes their handles, as a review shows that their analysts appear to have viewed the channel as a novelty, giving it a shot in 2009 but doing little since. At least the Forrester listing groups its analysts into research areas; other firms apparently expect you to figure out the focus of their analysts on your own. These are good first steps, but they still don’t make it easy for those who wish to follow them on these channels; they still leave it to you, the reader, to make sense of the different social media identities of their analysts, to figure a Twitter handle from the blog post and visa versa.

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SumTotal Provides Clarity in the New Year

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 6, 2011 8:00:54 PM

The new year started off with a bang in the human capital management software market as SumTotal Systems acquired GeoLearning, a leading learning management system (LMS) software vendor.

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Callidus Muscles Up With ForceLogix – But Can It Step Up to the Plate?

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 31, 2010 12:25:57 PM

In a very quiet and very subtle move, Callidus Software  (NASDAQ: CALD) has offered to purchase the assets of ForceLogix for about $3.75 million. This sales applications software company provides sales coaching software to help sales managers realize the full value of their sales representatives. In 2010, Callidus Software entered into an OEM agreement to embed ForceLogix within a new offering called Sales Coaching; it clearly concluded that the opportunity to expose the application to further opportunities in its customer base was too important for ForceLogix to be allowed  to continue to operate independently, and so it used some of its stated cash position of almost $11 million at end of September. This step into a pre-sales and sales management application is a key move toward expanding its sales performance management position. I would guess that Callidus sees some significant revenue growth in 2011 and beyond for its purchase.

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The Headquarters Effect and Salesforce.com

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 24, 2010 11:38:41 AM

Wall Street has many leading indicators to work with, some serious – such as housing starts and the purchasing managers’ index – and some done a bit tongue-in-cheek. One of the latter is the Super Bowl Indicator, which says that if a team from the original National Football League wins the game, the market will be up for the year, but if an old American Football League team wins it, the market will be down. The amazing thing is that so far this heuristic has an accuracy rate better than 75%! On the other hand, over time some venerable weather vanes become unreliable. For example, the “hem line theory” (that stocks rise and fall with the direction of this aspect of women’s fashion) lost its (ahem) legs, partly because fashion these days is much more anarchic.

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The Secrets behind Salesforce.com’s Strategy

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 20, 2010 2:17:38 PM

If you missed the biggest cloud computing conference, salesforce.com’s Dreamforce 8, (Twitter: #DF10) you missed an opportunity for insights into where CEO Marc Benioff is leading his company. The mission of salesforce.com, inc., goes way beyond the sales force automation that made its name, as I just discussed. That should not be surprising if, as I have, you followed its announcements and partnerships over the years. Now, I admire the efforts of salesforce, and we are a customer, but someone needs to fully analyze the implications of its actions – or lack of them – in many areas. For one, my colleague already assessed its analytics and support of dashboards that has room for improvement.

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Can Your Sales Force Trust Salesforce.com?

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 17, 2010 12:00:12 PM

At the 2010 Dreamforce conference (Twitter #df10) in San Francisco, about 18,000 people gathered to learn about the latest in salesforce.com’s applications and technology. Attendees from sales organizations might have been looking for some depth on the next generation of applications to support their sales processes or what the vendor will do to help sales managers manage, sales reps sell products and sales operations support it all. Certainly it’s reasonable for a sales force automation (SFA) customer to expect that.

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SAP Energizes CRM with Analytics and Interactions, But Will It Work?

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 14, 2010 11:28:36 AM

At the SAP Global Influencer Summit (Twitter #SAPSummit) that I just assessed the company addressed, among many other things, its SAP CRM vision and recent advances. SAP has shifted its focus from standard customer relationship management (CRM) to the customer lines of business where professionals increasingly see that the enterprise customer experience should span channels and processes in marketing, sales and customer service. SAP now is focusing on specializing its applications for a customer-focused set of business processes, which can be differentiated in its vertical industry solutions more than its horizontal CRM applications. This industry approach makes sense for SAP, which has not been able to tap into the new energy and applications in marketing, sales and service but is aware of multichannel customer requirements. Let’s start by looking about what SAP is focusing on in the customer lines of business.

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SAP Elevates Technology Strategy for Enterprise Software and Solutions

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 13, 2010 4:46:29 PM

At this year’s Influencer Summit (Twitter: #SAPSummit) SAP’s executive leadership team summarized the company’s progress in 2010 and described its plans for the coming year in a range of technologies. The event led off with co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe discussing by video from Germany the business and technology areas in which SAP expects growth in 2011. Jim focused SAP’s efforts in on-premises and on-demand delivery, mobility and in-memory computing, which are important to a new generation of products the company is bringing to market. He asserted that SAP does not need to acquire a lot more technology to innovate and grow its portfolio. While I thought the apologetic attitude about being late in updating SAP’s on-premise applications was unnecessary, the emphasis on its growth and technology was well communicated.

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IBM Struts Its Software Solutions and Middleware Stuff

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 7, 2010 6:48:30 AM

This month at its annual global analyst summit, IBM Connect 2010 (Twitter: #Connect10), IBM updated its direction and strategy for enterprise software. The company’s group executive in charge of software and systems, Steve Mills, discussed the business, its success in 2010 and organizational changes in naming Senior VP Mike Rhodin to manage the solutions group (which includes Analytics, Lotus and Industry Solutions) and Senior VP Robert LeBlanc to manage the middleware group (WebSphere, Information Management, Rational and Tivoli). This change occurred as Mills takes responsibility for the systems group and brings more focus to IBM’s growing portfolio from acquisitions in the software and middleware areas. In an open discussion Mills also talked about advances in analytics, cloud computing, collaboration and mobility technologies that use business intelligence in the IBM Cognos portfolio (See: “Cognos 10 Breaks Down Barriers To Business Intelligence and Analytics“) and in information management technologies grouped in IBM InfoSphere (See: “IBM Makes InfoSphere Information Server a Force in IT”). Steve outlined the importance of the technology investments in each area and the growth of the IBM portfolio which is quite substantive.

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HP Gives Up on Business Intelligence and Analytics Markets

Posted by Mark Smith on Dec 5, 2010 10:38:43 PM

No one has seemed to notice that in the last several months, Hewlett-Packard has quietly made changes to its participation in the enterprise software market; this will significantly change HP’s value for CIOs and IT organizations in regards to business intelligence (BI) technologies.

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Microsoft Hopes for a Miracle with Windows Phone 7

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:26:14 PM

Mobile computing isn’t new anymore. The capabilities of smartphones, among other things, enable businesses to run applications across an enterprise and workers to collaborate across business and social networks. In this endeavor Microsoft was early to market with its Windows CE devices that provided e-mail and Web browsing to phones. For the first years it was a low-level battle among Microsoft, RIM Blackberry and Palm as well as Nokia devices that were used mostly in Europe. In the last few years Microsoft has fallen behind in hardware and software sophistication, and even last year’s introduction of the Windows Mobile operating system had major issues, lacking multitasking, cut-and-paste, search and other basics that are essential for a phone to be smart. Meanwhile Apple has had massive growth with its iPhone, and Google has deployed the Android operating system for multiple devices and is growing its position in market. When I wrote about this movement with Apple in 2009 Apple had had a successful first year and I personally had ditched my Windows phone after giving up on Microsoft’s inability to develop effective mobile software integrated with hardware.

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Saba Dedicates Itself to People and Collaboration

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:25:07 PM

At its annual user conference in Boston, Saba provided insights to industry analysts on its progress over the last year and its direction for 2011. Best known for its learning management system (LMS), collaboration and more recently its talent management applications, Saba now has more than 19 million users in 1,400 customer organizations that are mostly in the public sector, have 5,000 or more employees and are based in North America, although it operates in 28 languages in 195 countries. Now the company is refining its mission. I analyzed the first indication of this shift in focus to business social networking in 2008 (See: “Saba to Innovate Workforces with Business Social Networking”); that started a movement that Saba communicated more clearly this year in describing its focus on providing “people systems.” That term means it wants to enable businesses to have people collaborate through open dialogue and its collaboration software and human capital management applications.

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Teradata Advances Analytics across the Board

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:24:07 PM

The battle for business analytics rages on. IBM, Oracle, SAP and SAS as billion dollar and larger companies each combine analytic computation and processing in the underlying data but Teradata remains a key player. For its part Teradata used its annual Partners conference to tout the next generation of analytics in its product portfolio and brought along customers to testify to their success in using its technology.

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Plateau Brings Mobility to Talent Management and Simplifies Applications

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:22:58 PM

At its 2010 user conference in Miami, Plateau Systems reviewed for analysts its progress in the market for talent management software. Plateau has a unified platform and suite of applications that cover learning, compensation, job performance and analytics. The company’s financials have been steadily growing as more customers adopt its platform and show good year-to-year growth in its applications that are rented through software as a service (SaaS). Plateau claims that its SaaS business has customer retention of 99 percent. The conference itself grew 40 percent from the previous year, with about 500 people in attendance, and Plateau has started a European conference that provided a local event for the first time.

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IBM Brings Business Analytics and Information Management to Center Stage

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:21:56 PM

This year IBM joined its annual Information on Demand conference with the new IBM Business Analytics Forum. Some 10,000 attendees came to learn about managing information assets using analytics for business, and the value of integrating business intelligence (BI) with information assets across the enterprise. All these topics are relevant, as large organizations have created thousands of silos that house data in many enterprise and personal computing environments. The conference was highlighted by the announcement of Cognos 10 that my colleague analyzed and of IBM’s emphasis on the business value of BI for performance management. The focus on business analytics is now a key part of the company’s overall strategy, and IBM has committed more trained consultants and employees to this market than anyone else.

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SuccessFactors Takes a Calculator into the Cloud?

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:20:40 PM

SuccessFactors is known for applications in performance and talent management but has been working to expand its portfolio more broadly into business. This year the company expanded its focus to workforce analytics with the acquisition of Inform, which I assessed. I have assessed that Inform needed to improve the usability of its tools to compete better which is now more easily possible with a new acquisition.

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iWay Software Connects Salesforce Chatter to the Enterprise

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:19:10 PM

It is not easy for businesses to make their operations more efficient, partly because their information systems do not provide notifications of events as they are happening. Most enterprise technology uses batch processing and is designed to move data from one database to another; otherwise it requires people to go and find the data they need. To be more responsive, new technologies capture and process events that are triggered by underlying systems and manage them through complex event processing (CEP). This technology is part of our research in the general category of information management; and in researching the category we call operational intelligence but now CEP is becoming embedded in other technologies in the enterprise.

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HR Technology Conference Brings Insight to Opportunity

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:17:43 PM

The annual HR Technology conference in Chicago provided a glimpse into the activities of HR organizations and their technology investments. It was a busy event with large attendance and much movement between sessions and the exhibit floor as attendees sought to learn more about the technology and what it can do for them. As always event organizers presented a large number of awards and announcements on the latest in technology for managing the workforce. The months leading up to the event saw various vendor consolidation activities that were part of the dialogue and discussion at HR Tech. First Kenexa acquired Salary.com to gain a talent management suite to complement its compensation and performance management software. Then ADP acquired Workscape for its compensation and performance management software, Taleo acquired Learn.com to bring learning to its suite, and SumTotal Systems acquired Softscape for its HRMS and talent management suite. All of them attended the conference. Also present were large providers of a range of business applications Infor, Oracle and SAP, which have several offerings for HR environment both HRMS and talent management applications. Oracle just made a move in talent management with the announcement of Oracle Fusion for Human Capital Management that I assessed; it is part of the larger Fusion family of new applications shown at Oracle OpenWorld. WorkDay continues to promote its blend of HRMS and talent management in its HCM offering appears to be making progress in catching up to the maturity of other offerings in the market.

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Oracle Expands Its Playbook at OpenWorld

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:16:12 PM

At its annual conference Oracle OpenWorld this year Oracle flexed its muscles as a technology giant. The company has been steadily growing through acquisitions to expand its database, middleware and applications, and the recent acquisition of Sun Microsystems gives it a way to sell hardware for servers and storage. This momentum is enabling Oracle to develop new streams of revenue, which were on display at OpenWorld in offerings such as a new generation of appliances from Oracle Exalogic for transactional computing and Oracle Exadata 2 for analytical processing along with the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud. This move into database appliances provides a route to capturing market share, particularly from Hewlett-Packard and IBM. As well its market and technology consolidation efforts are paying off in strong financial growth, as shown in its results for the first fiscal quarter of 2011. The conference had hundreds of announcements and insights delivered in breakout sessions or customer presentations regarding all aspects of Oracle’s portfolio of applications, middleware and database technologies. Seeing the former CEO of HP, Mark Hurd, on stage as President of Oracle added to the sense that the company is making dramatic steps for the present and future (See: “Oracle Hopes Mark Hurd Brings New Herd of Business“). And while there were few references to the previous president, Charles Phillips, it is clear that his hard work sowed the crop for Hurd to harvest in marketing, sales and services.

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Sneak Preview and Analysis: Oracle Fusion Applications for CRM and Sales Organizations

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:14:40 PM

At Oracle OpenWorld this week the company announced its next generation of business applications call Oracle Fusion Application ,  , which Larry Ellison touted in his closing day keynote at last year's conference, as I noted then. I attended the conference partly to learn what Oracle is doing in providing applications for sales organizations. In the late 1990s Siebel Systems introduced customer relationship management (CRM), which proved to be the next generation of sales-assisting technology after sales force automation (SFA). Since Oracle acquired Siebel a few years ago, it has advanced CRM through its own products and those acquired with PeopleSoft, and more recently with the Oracle OnDemand offerings. At OpenWorld Oracle began the formal  unveiling of next generation applications called Oracle Fusion Applications for CRM. Under this umbrella is a portfolio of applications designed to help lines of business with specific activities and processes, especially those involving sales operations and managers.
I was eager to attend a session at OpenWorld that had the phrase sales performance management (SPM) in its title because Oracle has not explicitly recognized this as a category for sales applications and also other sessions on its new approach to sales applications. More than five years ago our firm defined SPM as a category and since then has provided research and education on it. More and more sales organizations are adopting applications in this category to replace their SFA and CRM applications; SPM includes applications for managing incentives and rewards, compensation, goals, coaching, assets, territory, quotas and other sales functions not well addressed by those older applications. The need for these types of applications is clear from our benchmark research on SPM, which found only 13 percent of organizations to be very satisfied with SFA and many organizations rating other applications more important than it to their sales operations and performance.

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Sneak Preview and Analysis: Oracle Fusion Applications for Human Capital Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:13:02 PM

At Oracle OpenWorld this week the company announced its next generation of business applications call Oracle Fusion Applications ,  which Larry Ellison touted in his closing day keynote at last year's conference, as I noted then. Oracle's head of strategy, Gretchen Alarcon, and head of development, Clive Swan, presented the introduction to one of the seven Fusion families, Human Capital Management, and afterward many sessions provided depth on the product. Though this application suite is not ready for sale to the public yet, Oracle Fusion Applications for HCM has many new capabilities that will be welcomed not just by HR professionals but by line-of-business managers and employees. After all, human capital management (HCM) or what many in the industry call talent management matters as much to people whose career it affects as it does to those who use it in HR.

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IBM Makes Major Buy in Analytics Market with Netezza

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:11:44 PM

IBM has announced its intention to acquire Netezza, one of the world’s fastest-growing providers of data appliances, for approximately $1.7 billion. Founded only 10 years ago, Netezza has over 500 employees and 350 clients including brand names Burlington Coat Factory, Con-way Freight, Estee Lauder, Marriott and Nationwide Insurance. IBM has been investing in analytics software for five years and now becomes one of the strategic providers in the market. Many organizations are unwilling to spend the large amount of resources and budget to configure and tune complex databases like Microsoft, Oracle’s and even IBM on a specific brand of hardware and then have to deal with issues in storage, performance and scalability in processing data across their network. Instead they would like to find a technology package that handles data simply for various analytic purposes and is as easy to buy as a dishwasher or a clothes dryer.

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Talent Management Market Contracts Further as SumTotal Acquires Softscape

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:10:16 PM

The market for talent management software continues to consolidate as SumTotal will acquire Softscape to bring together a combination of customers, people and products that reaches more than 25 million users and 1,800 customers globally. This purchase follows three other recent ones: ADP acquiring WorkscapeKenexa acquiring salary.com and Taleo acquiring Learn.com. The result is fewer but stronger software companies providing applications that enable human resources departments and others in the organization to manage workforce performance. In recent years SumTotal has gone through a transition of management and rationalization of products from acquisitions with financial backing from Vista Equity Partners to help stabilize the company. On the other hand, Softscape had been growing organically over the last 15 years through its closely held ownership to expand its presence across the world. While SumTotal specializes in learning and collaboration along with performance management, Softscape has a complete HRMS and talent management suite that includes recruiting, onboarding, performance, compensation, succession planning and analytics.

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IBM Opens a Page for GRC

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:09:18 PM

IBM has announced its intention to acquire OpenPages, a privately held, Massachusetts-based software company focused on governance, risk and compliance (GRC). I noted that after the deal finishes, the business will reside within IBM’s analytics group rather than in document management; this arrangement signals IBM’s intention to integrate its collaboration and communications around performance management (and achieve a fusion of text and data) and sharpen the ability of OpenPages to get an audience with finance and IT organizations, which are mainstays of IBM’s business analytics efforts after its acquisitions of Cognos, SPSS and others.

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ActuateOne Advances Information Platform with Analytics and Business Intelligence

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:07:51 PM

Actuate has announced a major new version of its software called ActuateOne. Its technology is integrated in a single platform and set of tools for performance management, analytics, business intelligence (BI) and information applications; the product can be managed on-premises or in the cloud and is accessible via mobile devices such as the Apple iPhone and iPad. Actuate has been in the BI market since the 1990s; this release counts as version 11, which by itself represents a significant milestone for an independent company like Actuate.

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SAP Unveils Next Generation of Business Analytics

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:04:20 PM

On Tuesday in Silicon Valley, SAP introduced its latest business software: business analytics applications for specific vertical industries. The event was kicked off by SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott, who demonstrated the simplicity of the applications on an Apple iPad, which has become the demonstration system of choice for SAP as well as a tool it provides for its sales force. Bill and EVP of Business Analytics Keith Costello provided a glimpse of the applications’ capabilities as part of the product launch event. This announcement was expected as SAP has been known to be working on advancing its analytics through its own development efforts and from applications acquired with Business Objects. The announcement is significant for SAP’s ability to compete with IBM and Oracle in vertical industries but has not arrived to their point of also offering independent and cross industry analytics across all line of business areas like sales, operations, marketing, contact center and customer management . Bringing new applications to the analytics market enables SAP to utilize its business intelligence (BI) platform and tools with analytics models and metrics brought together in a package for an industry. Specifically SAP announced 10 applications for vertical industries including consumer packaged goods (CPG), retail, banking, healthcare, the public sector and telecommunications and plans to release new ones on a quarterly basis along with updates.

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Informatica Cloud Asserts Its Strength

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:02:23 PM

Recently I wrote a blog outlining a relatively new offering, Informatica Cloud. I questioned how many companies understood the need for data management and whether they would turn to a cloud-based solution to meet their needs. It seems that my doubts have been addressed with the rapid adoption of it in 2010. At salesforce.com’s recent Cloudforce event in London, I learned that Informatica Cloud now has more than 1,000 customers and that it is the application most often downloaded from salesforce’s AppExchange. Basically, Informatica Cloud allows business users to extract data from one or more systems and have it integrated into another system. Business people pick the systems they want to use and define rules for how integration should take place; the process then happens automatically. All the technology resides “in the cloud” so after a little help getting started from IT, business users can handle their own data integration requirements.

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Oracle Hopes Mark Hurd Brings New Herd of Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:01:06 PM

At the eye of the tornado of accusations, rumors and gossip in Silicon Valley that began with CEO Mark Hurd’s departure from Hewlett-Packard are the internal politics and lack of management procedures and oversight at the company. I have pointed out a connection not discussed elsewhere to issues around the enterprise software efforts at HP (See: “HP Scandal Reflects on Enterprise Software Issue“). Now with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s hiring of Hurd as president and appointment of him to the company’s board of directors, this topic comes up again because Mark will bring energy and ideas for advancement of Oracle’s technology portfolio. Larry continues to deliver interesting one-liners to the media, beginning at the time of the firing (“The HP Board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple Board fired Steve Jobs many years ago.”) and continuing as HP sues Oracle over Hurd bringing proprietary knowledge from there (“The HP board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees. The HP board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace."). Larry is right that his move will impact the Oracle/HP partnership at many levels, but the war of words also shows the personal nature of high-stakes gamesmanship in Silicon Valley.

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ADP Acquires Workscape to Consolidate Talent Management Market

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 3:00:02 PM

Consolidation activity increased in the market for applications in talent management or what I call workforce performance management as ADP announced and now has closed the acquisition of Workscape. ADP is a $9 billion outsourcing provider that is well known for providing employer and payroll services; the company has been expanding its breadth of services for employers by responding to demand for software as a service (SaaS), a deployment model that does not require significant involvement from the customer’s IT staff.

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Kenexa Advances in Talent Management and Saves Salary.com

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:58:59 PM

Today was another inflection point for the talent management market and buyers of HR applications with the announcement that Kenexa is acquiring salary.com (NASDAQ: SLRY) pending shareholder and SEC approval. Kenexa is offering a cash-per-share agreement that should work to complete the transaction. More complicated will be figuring out how to retain the talent at salary.com; that company has been decreasing in sales and size of the organization over the last couple of years and has struggled to reduce operating expenses. Its recent quarterly SEC filing showed a loss of more than $5.5 million on $9.7 million of revenue. It’s obvious that salary.com needed to find a buyer fast or face closing its doors. In contrast, according to its most recent quarterly SEC filing, Kenexa generated a $1.1 million profit on $44.8 million of revenue.

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Infopia Launches Retail Analytics for E-Business

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:57:16 PM

The rapid evolution of business on the Internet has dramatically changed many organizations’ strategies for growth and profitability, especially those in the retail sector. I have written about the importance of analytics overall and in retail, but many companies are maturing slowly in using them to analyze electronic business and commerce. Data derived from analytics can enable them to manage the cycle from electronic merchandising and promotions to assessing interactions with sales categories and products and then to details of customer behavior and revenue. While there have been advancements in analytics of Web traffic, more is needed to be done to operate the Internet channel of retailing like those of “bricks and mortar.” As I have written about the evolution of Web sites to business sites (See: “Destroy the Website and Build Your Business on the Internet“), organizations need to invest in this business not just with people and processes but with the information and technology required to be successful. Our recent benchmark research into business intelligence found slight maturity and inadequate use of analytics to support retail. The research specifically discovered that the overuse of spreadsheets and lack of analytic capabilities are holding back organizations from maturing: Only 15 percent of retailers are at the highest Innovative level of maturity according to our Ventana Research Maturity Model.

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Operational Intelligence Gets Boost from eg solutions

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:55:41 PM

The market for operational intelligence (OI) has grown as organizations realize the importance of having information in real time and in the right context. To accomplish this requires that operational data is processed as it happens, commonly by being packaged into what are called events and made available through technologies for complex event processing or event monitoring. Operational intelligence has long been part of our research focus. In benchmark research on it, we found that optimizing business processes and reducing time to respond drive more than 70 percent of organizations to invest in OI and that utilization of events for managing risk and complying with regulations is important to more than half of organizations today.

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Workforce Analytics is Easy and Simple with Accero

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:53:41 PM

To utilize a workforce effectively requires information about it and the ability to analyze that in the context of the business’s needs. Yet it has long been the case that the use of analytics and business intelligence (BI) is least advanced in the human resources function. It remains so even as organizations introduce talent management applications to supplement or replace legacy human resource management systems (HRMSs). We believe that to apply analytics effectively to talent management processes in HR and also support the finance and operations management teams, organizations should examine new technology tools. I recently wrote about the challenges in workforce analytics (See: “Workforce Analytics: Do You Know How Much Your People Matter?“) and noted confusion about vendors and their offerings to meet this need.

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IBM Antes Up for Marketing Applications by Acquiring Unica

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:52:07 PM

In a second move indicating its seriousness about competing in the market for marketing software, IBM announced its offer to acquire publicly traded Unica Corp. Unica is one of the larger providers in this space, with more than $100 million in annual revenue and 1,500 customers worldwide. Its success in very large marketing organizations, including brand-name customers Best Buy, Marriott and IBM itself, enabled it to be one of the few that has continued to grow in the challenging economic environment. It provides enterprise marketing automation and analytics software in both on-premises and on-demand forms. Unica had grown significantly in sales to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, competing against EloquaSAS Institute and Infor’s CRM product, which was derived from its acquisition of Epiphany and has advanced since then (See:  “Infor Launches Innovative E-mail Management“).

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HP Scandal Reflects on Enterprise Software Issue

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:50:19 PM

The recent turmoil at Hewlett-Packard that went public with news of the resignation of CEO Mark Hurd is only superficially about the facts of the scandal or the question of who will be the new CEO, sexy as those issues may be. What it really shines a light on is the performance of the company itself. I wrote earlier this year (See: “HP Takes Technology Portfolio to the Clouds with New Growth Strategy”) about the challenges HP faces in building its brand credibility and gaining traction to advance its enterprise software business. Then in May, HP hired Bill Veghte from Microsoft to run its $3 billion software business unit. Bill and his boss Ann Livermore stated at the time, not surprisingly, that software is a strategic part of delivering innovation to customers. In my view that’s more a description of their goal than the then-current reality. In fact, HP has had a low profile in the software segment. Though the division gets its place on its Web site, many of us close-in watchers question claims that HP is a leader in any enterprise software category beyond data center and network management. Convincing us otherwise will require more than fancy words and sales collateral; Mark Hurd or no Mark Hurd, it’ll require walking the talk: having the people and products companies want – products that will make a difference.

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Taleo Brings New Intelligence to Talent Management

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:48:47 PM

Today’s intense competitive pressures demand that organizations utilize their human capital more effectively. Taleo has been steadily growing as a provider of talent management by offering its applications and platform through software as a service (SaaS). Now it has advanced into what they call Talent Intelligence that can help organizations gain new insights on their workforce and individual employees by examining their potential and areas for improvement. Research has shown that performance is at risk when individuals doubt that their contribution is fully valued and lack confidence that executives are compensating them appropriately. Talent Intelligence can help alleviate these issues. Adding to its availability for large organizations, Taleo has released a version for small and midsize businesses to help organizations of any size manage their talent better.

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Infor24 Makes Applications Simpler To Acquire and Integrate

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:47:21 PM

The advent of cloud computing and renting of applications has provided another realm of opportunity for applications software vendors. Infor, which already is the third-largest in the world, is taking advantage of it. Infor announced Infor24, an initiative to bring its role-based applications into the cloud. It will use the Infor ION platform that supports other new Infor applications, including one for hospitality that my colleague recently discussed (See: “Infor Simplifies Hospitality Management Software“). Infor24 is built on the Microsoft Azure platform, which will help Infor support interoperability through standard interfaces such as SOAP, REST and XML  utilizing Microsoft SQL Azure. Additionally Infor provides tight security on Infor24 and integration across processes to facilitate alerting, monitoring and reporting. This is an important step for customers as well as the company in balancing support for different ways to acquire software.

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Hadoop Gets Easier with Cloudera Version 3

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:45:19 PM

Managing large volumes of enterprise data continues to challenge IT organizations as they deal with administration and storage of no longer just terabytes but now petabytes of data and costs increase accordingly. This massive size of data complicates the underlying issues of where and how to store it easily in low-cost hardware and manage the data efficiently. One attempt at a solution is Hadoop, an open source community-based project. It began as part of Yahoo and was led by Doug Cutting, who used the MapReduce concepts for large-scale distributed computing to create a distributed file system. Yahoo itself runs the largest deployment of Hadoop. Doug Cutting is not new to the open source world, being involved in the creation of Lucene, open source search technology among many other open source community projects.

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Research Finds New Adoption and Interest in Mobile Business Intelligence

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:44:10 PM

The demand for access to business information and applications through mobile technologies such as the Apple iPhone and iPad, devices running Google Android or using RIM Blackberry is surging as consumer preferences and behavior spill over into the business workforce. The massive growth of adoption of these technologies around the world as consumers seek instant access to information has many business managers wondering how to benefit from the trend. The drive for mobility is part of the 2010 business technology agenda (See: “Using Innovative and Disruptive Technology in 2010”) as a source of innovation inside the enterprise and in interactions with consumers and customers. Of course in a business rather than personal context, more types and complexity of information are needed, ranging from access to documents and presentations, to status on initiatives and processes, for specific application needs to performance in what is known as business intelligence.

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Kalido Does Data Governance Right

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:42:44 PM

The proper management of data is ever more important and complex. Business people must have easy access to data from all over the enterprise, but unguarded access and distribution may enable users to bypass the IT organization’s rules for data management, copy and paste whatever they like into spreadsheets and share it in uncontrolled fashion. Firm control of enterprise data requires policies and practice for governance, yet our benchmark research found that only 12 percent of organizations are innovative in their data governance. Reaching this highest level of maturity is not easy when you have to manage a portfolio of policies and rules that span business units and IT and must take into account people, processes, information and supporting technology. Despite this it is essential to address this data governance need and as I wrote is a 2010 priority (See: “Optimized IT and Focus on Information Technology in 2010“).

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IBM’s Advances Business Analytics and Optimization in First Year

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:41:33 PM

At its Business Analytics and Optimization (BAO) analyst summit in Washington, D.C., IBM provided direction on the state of its software and services in this category of business technology. This annual event goes back to 2005 when IBM started making BAO-related software acquisitions in earnest. I have written before about IBM’s focus on analytics and optimization (See: “IBM Fuses New Generation of Analytics for Deeper Business Optimization”), but I want to point out the company’s focus is not just on software but also on services, hardware and larger efforts. At the executive level IBM has communicated to investors and shareholders four strategic areas of focus: Business Analytics, Smarter Planet, Cloud Computing and Growth Markets. IBM sees itself as leading the business analytics market with unified services, software, hardware and a platform for them.

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Sales Compensation Easier To Manage with Varicent 7

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:40:04 PM

To help sales teams to maximize their value to the company, sales operations and management must find the right balance of compensation and incentives to motivate them to achieve their quotas. To do this requires the ability to design compensation plans that take into consideration products, territories and accounts and of course the number of customers and prospects. Sales managers also need flexibility so they can build plans that align to sales objectives and realistically evaluate the potential of products and services for each territory and customer opportunity. Our benchmark research on sales performance management found that many organizations fall short in these capabilities: One-third of research participants said they have no confidence in their existing sales operations and management, and 26 percent more said they are only somewhat confident in them. Faced with this negativity, many organizations are trying to improve their processes by adopting applications designed for these and related aspects of sales.

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Information Applications is a New Technology Category Designed for Business and IT

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:37:31 PM

In today’s world, without information there is no business. That is, without having the right information and making it available to the right people at the right time, an organization cannot be fully informed, make the right decisions and act on them, and compete effectively enough to survive and prosper. That much is a given. Finding ways to ensure that an organization’s information is available, timely and in the right form is a complex, ongoing process; I call it the ”secret sauce” that is needed for efficiency and profitability.

Read More

Informatica Simplifies Cloud Integration with New Data Plugs

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:30:49 PM

Businesses continually need to improve their abilities to utilize data generated by their activities and interactions. Retrieving, cleaning and sharing data are ongoing processes, and along with data within the enterprise, applications in cloud computing are becoming critical sources. Vital data about customers and even employees among many other types is distributed across the cloud and must be integrated with the rest of data in the enterprise for applying analytics to gain visibility into the entire business.

Read More

Plateau Advances Talent Management in the Cloud

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:29:21 PM

The market for talent management continues to grow as organizations realize that they have not invested enough to make their workforces more productive and valuable. Not many human resources organizations have enabled innovation in their workforce processes or taken the next step to work more strategically with finance and operations executives. Now savvy HR organizations have been renting a new generation of talent management applications through software as a service (SaaS) in a cloud computing environment.

Read More

Merced Systems Customer Summit Advances Sales and Customer Service Organizations

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:27:50 PM

Many organizations want to improve the performance of their sales and customer service operations but have difficulty increasing efficiency and producing better results. One barrier to improvement is sticking with the status quo of managing sales operations and performance through spreadsheets, as 47 percent of organizations still do, according to Ventana Research’s benchmark research on sales performance management. Also many organizations continue to expect good results from using sales force automation (SFA), but our research shows that 39 percent of organizations are not satisfied with these systems. We also found that the number-one driver of efforts to improve is to make sales performance strategic. In customer service, optimizing utilization of call center agents is a top requirement; another is increasing customer satisfaction, cited by 89 percent of participants in our benchmark research on agent performance management.

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iWay Software Deepens Information Management Expands to Cloud Computing

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:25:58 PM

At the Information Builders 2010 conference I spent some time to learn about the latest in its business intelligence (BI) technology and also performance management, which my colleague has analyzed recently (See: “IBI’s Eye Popping New Performance Management Software”). But I focused more on information management, which is becoming a strategic component of the company’s portfolio. Its iWay Software includes a suite of integration adapters used to interoperate across processes and data types along with its integration server, and I investigated several products that use these two foundation components for various aspects of information management.

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Softscape Demonstrates Leadership in Managing Talent with New Release

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 28, 2010 2:23:55 PM

Cliché or not, a business’s most valuable asset is its people, and for 15 years Softscape has been dedicated to providing applications that help human resources organizations handle a range of processes that I call workforce performance management, including what the industry refers to as talent management. Privately held Softscape operates in 156 countries, and its customers range from large companies (with 1,000 to 10,000 employees) to the extremely large (which have over 50,000 employees). It has one of the highest customer renewal rates in the industry, is growing consistently and is attracting new customers with its cloud computing offering that provides software as a service (SaaS) that organizations rent rather than license and install themselves. Softscape also has entered the expanding market for customer experience management to support processes for maximizing customer relationships.

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Kronos Goes Usability and Mobility in New Releases

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 6:07:48 PM

At its annual user conference in Las Vegas, Kronos unveiled the next stage of its approach to workforce management to its customers and partners, showing an aggressively confident posture after completing its fiscal year 2010 with revenue increased 9 percent to $741 million. Kronos is the largest provider of workforce management systems for time and attendance, scheduling, absence tracking, hiring and workforce analytics. Kronos offers the software in several delivery options: through conventional licensing and deployment on-premises, as a managed, hosted service and now software as a service (SaaS). Kronos has made progress since my in-depth analysis last year of its roadmap for its workforce management applications.

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Kronos Goes Usability and Mobility in New Releases

Posted by Mark Smith on Nov 26, 2010 7:47:13 AM

At its annual user conference in Las Vegas, Kronos unveiled the next stage of its approach to workforce management to its customers and partners, showing an aggressively confident posture after completing its fiscal year 2010 with revenue increased 9 percent to $741 million. Kronos is the largest provider of workforce management systems for time and attendance, scheduling, absence tracking, hiring and workforce analytics. Kronos offers the software in several delivery options: through conventional licensing and deployment on-premises, as a managed, hosted service and now software as a service (SaaS). Kronos has made progress since my in-depth analysis last year of its roadmap for its workforce management applications.

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Infrastructure and Analytics Power Oracle BI 11g to New Levels

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 9, 2010 2:40:30 PM

At the Oracle Business Intelligence analyst summit in June, company executives touted the advances and accomplishments of Oracle Business Intelligence 10g over the last several years along with outlining the features of what was announced in April as Oracle Business Intelligence 11g is now available for purchase. The new version was three years in the making, and so I last wrote about aspects of that back in 2008. Apparently it took this longer-than-usual product cycle to fully integrate the BI platform with the Oracle 11g middleware as well as with the analytic database Oracle Essbase and to create a seamless user experience with the BI capabilities. It is also important to note that Oracle BI 11g is the foundation for analytics in the Oracle Fusion Applications, the first of which are being released in 2010 though announced last year at Oracle OpenWorld.

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Analytics, Integration Across the Cloud: Easier with Pervasive

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 7, 2010 2:27:01 PM

I have written often about how business applications and services operating on the Internet must be interfaced to the enterprise. When businesses rent applications through software as a service (SaaS) or cloud computing, they create challenges in making that data usable by a range of analytic systems inside the enterprise. Pervasive Software specializes in providing data integration and management software for these purposes and has evolved its technology for distributed data integration.

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MicroStrategy Mobile BI is Simpler on Apple

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 6, 2010 2:20:25 PM

At MicroStrategy World in Cannes, France, MicroStrategy announced today the general availability of MicroStrategy Mobile for the Apple iPhone and iPad. This release adds another means of getting business information and metrics to a broad audience of mobile workers through their preferred technology. Supported by our benchmark research and in my recent blog I noted the growing demand by business for simpler access to mobile business intelligence.

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Use a New Generation of Business Metrics and Key Indicators That Matter Most

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 6, 2010 2:15:26 PM

The market for business intelligence (BI) and performance management has grown as more businesses see the need to understand, optimize and align performance at all levels of employees. But while the technology has evolved to become easier to use, organizations have been slow to use it to create performance metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). At last that is starting to change. Our benchmark research in business intelligence and performance management found that 41 percent of organizations now deploy evaluation-based performance metrics, 29 percent are assessing them and others are planning to deploy some sort of metrics in the next year.

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Hadoop Gets Easier with Cloudera Version 3

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 29, 2010 4:41:21 PM

Managing large volumes of enterprise data continues to challenge IT organizations as they deal with administration and storage of no longer just terabytes but now petabytes of data and costs increase accordingly. This massive size of data complicates the underlying issues of where and how to store it easily in low-cost hardware and manage the data efficiently. One attempt at a solution is Hadoop, an open source community-based project. It began as part of Yahoo and was led by Doug Cutting, who used the MapReduce concepts for large-scale distributed computing to create a distributed file system. Yahoo itself runs the largest deployment of Hadoop. Doug Cutting is not new to the open source world, being involved in the creation of Lucene, open source search technology among many other open source community projects.

Read More

Research Finds New Adoption and Interest in Mobile Business Intelligence

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 24, 2010 4:27:02 PM

The demand for access to business information and applications through mobile technologies such as the Apple iPhone and iPad, devices running Google Android or using RIM Blackberry is surging as consumer preferences and behavior spill over into the business workforce. The massive growth of adoption of these technologies around the world as consumers seek instant access to information has many business managers wondering how to benefit from the trend. The drive for mobility is part of the 2010 business technology agenda (See: “Using Innovative and Disruptive Technology in 2010”) as a source of innovation inside the enterprise and in interactions with consumers and customers. Of course in a business rather than personal context, more types and complexity of information are needed, ranging from access to documents and presentations, to status on initiatives and processes, for specific application needs to performance in what is known as business intelligence.

Read More

Kalido Does Data Governance Right

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 22, 2010 4:46:09 PM

The proper management of data is ever more important and complex. Business people must have easy access to data from all over the enterprise, but unguarded access and distribution may enable users to bypass the IT organization’s rules for data management, copy and paste whatever they like into spreadsheets and share it in uncontrolled fashion. Firm control of enterprise data requires policies and practice for governance, yet our benchmark research found that only 12 percent of organizations are innovative in their data governance. Reaching this highest level of maturity is not easy when you have to manage a portfolio of policies and rules that span business units and IT and must take into account people, processes, information and supporting technology. Despite this it is essential to address this data governance need and as I wrote is a 2010 priority (See: “Optimized IT and Focus on Information Technology in 2010“).

Read More

IBM’s Advances Business Analytics and Optimization in First Year

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 21, 2010 4:45:26 PM

At its Business Analytics and Optimization (BAO) analyst summit in Washington, D.C., IBM provided direction on the state of its software and services in this category of business technology. This annual event goes back to 2005 when IBM started making BAO-related software acquisitions in earnest. I have written before about IBM’s focus on analytics and optimization (See: “IBM Fuses New Generation of Analytics for Deeper Business Optimization”), but I want to point out the company’s focus is not just on software but also on services, hardware and larger efforts. At the executive level IBM has communicated to investors and shareholders four strategic areas of focus: Business Analytics, Smarter Planet, Cloud Computing and Growth Markets. IBM sees itself as leading the business analytics market with unified services, software, hardware and a platform for them.

Read More

Sales Compensation Easier To Manage with Varicent 7

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 18, 2010 4:44:00 PM

To help sales teams to maximize their value to the company, sales operations and management must find the right balance of compensation and incentives to motivate them to achieve their quotas. To do this requires the ability to design compensation plans that take into consideration products, territories and accounts and of course the number of customers and prospects. Sales managers also need flexibility so they can build plans that align to sales objectives and realistically evaluate the potential of products and services for each territory and customer opportunity. Our benchmark research on sales performance management found that many organizations fall short in these capabilities: One-third of research participants said they have no confidence in their existing sales operations and management, and 26 percent more said they are only somewhat confident in them. Faced with this negativity, many organizations are trying to improve their processes by adopting applications designed for these and related aspects of sales.

Read More

Information Applications is a New Technology Category Designed for Business and IT

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 17, 2010 4:40:20 PM

In today’s world, without information there is no business. That is, without having the right information and making it available to the right people at the right time, an organization cannot be fully informed, make the right decisions and act on them, and compete effectively enough to survive and prosper. That much is a given. Finding ways to ensure that an organization’s information is available, timely and in the right form is a complex, ongoing process; I call it the ”secret sauce” that is needed for efficiency and profitability.

Read More

Informatica Simplifies Cloud Integration with New Data Plugs

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 16, 2010 4:39:32 PM

Businesses continually need to improve their abilities to utilize data generated by their activities and interactions. Retrieving, cleaning and sharing data are ongoing processes, and along with data within the enterprise, applications in cloud computing are becoming critical sources. Vital data about customers and even employees among many other types is distributed across the cloud and must be integrated with the rest of data in the enterprise for applying analytics to gain visibility into the entire business.

Read More

Plateau Advances Talent Management in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 15, 2010 4:35:09 PM

The market for talent management continues to grow as organizations realize that they have not invested enough to make their workforces more productive and valuable. Not many human resources organizations have enabled innovation in their workforce processes or taken the next step to work more strategically with finance and operations executives. Now savvy HR organizations have been renting a new generation of talent management applications through software as a service (SaaS) in a cloud computing environment.

Read More

iWay Software Deepens Information Management Expands to Cloud Computing

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 11, 2010 4:30:13 PM

At the Information Builders 2010 conference I spent some time to learn about the latest in its business intelligence (BI) technology and also performance management, which my colleague has analyzed recently (See: “IBI’s Eye Popping New Performance Management Software”). But I focused more on information management, which is becoming a strategic component of the company’s portfolio. Its iWay Software includes a suite of integration adapters used to interoperate across processes and data types along with its integration server, and I investigated several products that use these two foundation components for various aspects of information management.

Read More

Merced Systems Customer Summit Advances Sales and Customer Service Organizations

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 10, 2010 8:31:10 PM

Many organizations want to improve the performance of their sales and customer service operations but have difficulty increasing efficiency and producing better results. One barrier to improvement is sticking with the status quo of managing sales operations and performance through spreadsheets, as 47 percent of organizations still do, according to Ventana Research’s benchmark research on sales performance management. Also many organizations continue to expect good results from using sales force automation (SFA), but our research shows that 39 percent of organizations are not satisfied with these systems. We also found that the number-one driver of efforts to improve is to make sales performance strategic. In customer service, optimizing utilization of call center agents is a top requirement; another is increasing customer satisfaction, cited by 89 percent of participants in our benchmark research on agent performance management.

Read More

Softscape Demonstrates Leadership in Managing Talent with New Release

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 4, 2010 4:25:18 PM

Cliché or not, a business’s most valuable asset is its people, and for 15 years Softscape has been dedicated to providing applications that help human resources organizations handle a range of processes that I call workforce performance management, including what the industry refers to as talent management. Privately held Softscape operates in 156 countries, and its customers range from large companies (with 1,000 to 10,000 employees) to the extremely large (which have over 50,000 employees). It has one of the highest customer renewal rates in the industry, is growing consistently and is attracting new customers with its cloud computing offering that provides software as a service (SaaS) that organizations rent rather than license and install themselves. Softscape also has entered the expanding market for customer experience management to support processes for maximizing customer relationships.

Read More