Mark Smith's Analyst Perspectives

About the Analyst

Mark Smith

Mark is responsible for the overall direction of Ventana Research and drives the global research agenda covering both business and technology areas. He defined the blueprint for Information Management and Performance Management as the linking together of people, processes, information and technology across organizations to drive effective results. Mark is an expert in technology for business from Performance Management, Business Intelligence, Analytics to Information Management across finance, operations and IT. Mark has held CMO, product development and research roles at companies such as SAP, META Group, Oracle and IRI Software. He has experience across major industries including banking, consumer products, food and beverage, insurance, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and retail and consumer services.


Recent Posts

Broken Analytics and BI? Natural Language and Notifications Can Help

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

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

Read More

Topics: Big Data, data science, Mobile, Machine Learning, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, digital technology, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing

Salesforce Fails Again in Customer Experience

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

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

Read More

Topics: Big Data, Sales, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Sales Planning and Analytics

Compensation Management Software Vendors Evaluated in Value Index

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

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

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Learning Management, HRMS, Workforce Management, Work and Resource Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Payroll Optimization

Supercharge Sales Analytics with Digital Technologies

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

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

Read More

Topics: Big Data, Sales, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Sales Planning and Analytics

Prepare and Wrangle Data for Sales Analytics

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

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

Read More

Topics: Big Data, Sales, Machine Learning, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, digital technology, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Sales Planning and Analytics

Effective Compensation Systems Transforms Human Capital Management

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

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

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Learning Management, HRMS, Workforce Management, Work and Resource Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Payroll Optimization

New Generation of Sales Analytics Can Optimize Revenue Potential

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

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

Read More

Topics: Big Data, Sales, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution, Machine Learning Digital Technology, Sales Planning and Analytics

Cloudera Strengthens Big Data for Business and IT

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

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

Read More

Topics: Big Data, data science, Machine Learning, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Data Governance, Data Integration, Data Preparation, Internet of Things, Cognitive Computing, Information Optimization, digital technology, Cybersecurity

Optimizing the Business of Selling in 2017

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

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

Read More

Topics: Big Data, Sales, Machine Learning, Mobile Technology, Office of Finance, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, digital technology, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain, Sales and Operations Planning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing, Sales Enablement and Execution

Leaders in Workforce Management Software for 2017

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

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

Read More

Topics: Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Learning Management, HRMS, Workforce Management, Work and Resource Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Payroll Optimization