I am happy to share some insights from our latest Value Index research, which rates how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements in seven categories, five relevant to the product (adaptability, capability, manageability, reliability and usability) and two related to the vendor (TCO/ROI and vendor validation). The Ventana Research Value Index: Sales Performance Management 2019 is the distillation of a year of market and product research efforts by Ventana Research. Drawing on our benchmark research and expertise, this research-based index is the first such evaluation to assess the full business value of sales performance management software. You can learn more about our Value Index as an effective vendor selection and RFI/RFP tool here and participating vendors can learn more about how to use the Value Index here.
This Value Index report evaluates nine vendors that offer products that deliver sales performance management as we define it: Anaplan, beqom, IBM, Incentives Solutions, NICE, Optymyze, Oracle, SAP and Xactly. Unlike many IT analyst firms that rank vendors from an IT-only perspective or consider futures or vision over what is available in the products today, Ventana Research has designed the Value Index to provide a balanced perspective of vendors and products that is rooted in an understanding of business drivers and needs. This approach not only reduces cost and time but also minimizes the risk of making a decision that is bad for the business. Using the Value Index will enable your organization to achieve the levels of efficiency and effectiveness needed to optimize sales performance management.
The Value Index for Sales Performance Management in 2019 finds Oracle first on the list with Xactly in second place and IBM in third. Companies that rank in the top three in any category earn the designation Value Index Leader. Oracle has done so in all seven categories; IBM and Xactly are Value Index Leaders in four of the seven evaluation categories; Optymyze is in two categories; and Anaplan, beqom and SAP are in one.
The Value Index Categories
For each of our Value Indexes, we weight the seven categories to best represent the needs of buyers according to our research on this topic. The Capability category makes up 25 percent of this Value Index rating. The relatively significant weighting is due to the breadth of requirements for effectively managing sales performance; not just one application but many are required to assist sales organizations at all levels. This Value Index assesses how well the vendor supports the overall needs of sales performance management, examining the specific applications (more than two dozen) that help manage sales performance across all levels and types of professionals in the sales organization.
The Capability category also assesses the support for mobile devices and for collaboration across roles and sales processes. It examines ease of integration between the platform and applications and the rest of the enterprise, as the product needs to receive and publish data from accounting, compensation, ERP, learning management, sales force automation and payroll systems. We examined specific support for the following roles in sales: management, manager, account manager or sales professional, sales operations, analyst, administration and IT support. In this category Oracle, Optymyze and SAP are Value Index Leaders.
Usability is also important to address a wide range of the business needs of executives, line managers, sales professionals, sales operations, analysts and those responsible for the administration of sales performance management. The weighting for this category, in which Oracle, Xactly and IBM are the top three vendors, is 20 percent of the Value Index rating. Vendors’ products are evaluated in this category on the user experience provided for the range of roles in sales performance management. The research examined the level of intelligence provided in the user experience, including notifications and the use of AI and machine learning. It also examined the accessibility of the user experience across a range of channels and devices including mobile, web and conversational experiences via voice and chat.
Adaptability is weighted at 10 percent. This category assesses the degree to which the application can respond to enterprise requirements with respect to configurability, customization and integration. This evaluation includes assessing how well integrity is maintained as the platform and applications integrate across the people, business, processes, application and data needs of the organization. Adaptability also involves the ability to readily integrate with other systems — for example, commission and incentives need to easily connect with payroll and accounting processes and systems, and closed deals must be integrated with SFA or order management systems. Oracle, Optymyze and Xactly are the highest-rated vendors in this category.
Manageability, which encompasses administration, privacy, security and licensing, is weighted at 15 percent of this Value Index. The vendor rankings in this evaluation category are tightly grouped together, reflecting vendors’ emphasis on investment in this aspect of the technology. This category is essential for SPM as the breadth of applications and support for processes these systems must provide can make effective management difficult. Oracle, IBM and beqom are the Value Index Leaders in this category.
For sales performance management to operate efficiently and for sellers and managers to engage with the applications, the software on which they run must be able to scale and perform reliably to support an array of processes, including commission calculation, analytical computation and real-time access to sales performance by anyone at any level. This is the Reliability category and it is weighted at 10 percent of this Value Index. Oracle, IBM and NICE are the Value Index Leaders in this category, providing the highest level of confidence they can operate reliably as needed 24 hours a day.
The Validation category contributes 10 percent to the overall Value Index rating. The leaders here are Oracle, Xactly and Anaplan. This assessment finds wide variation in the level of detail that vendors provide regarding many areas including the product roadmap, customer success references and case studies, services and support. A lack of information about a vendor’s product support and services is a challenge that an organization looking to evaluate and select software simply should not have to face. After all, a vendor’s success is about not just technology but also its relationship with the customer and the overall experience it provides.
TCO/ROI, a category that addresses vendor support for a buyer’s investment evaluation by providing information, tools and services to help with the business case (including the benefits and costs) makes up 10 percent of the Value Index rating. Value Leaders IBM, Oracle and Xactly currently do the best job providing potential prospects and customers with this information along with services to help organizations effectively get funding for sales performance management. However, our research finds that some vendors struggle significantly in this category and are ill prepared to help organizations effectively in the evaluation and buying process.
As noted above, this Ventana Research Value Index evaluates the software in seven key categories. The chart below places the product-related and customer assurance ratings on the X and Y axes respectively to provide a visual representation of our Value Index evaluation. Vendors whose products performed higher in aggregate in the five product categories place farther to the right; the combination of ratings for the two customer assurance categories determines their placement on the vertical axis. In short, vendors that place closer to the upper-right on this chart rated higher than those closer to the lower-left.
The vendors that rank the highest overall on the aggregated product axis, which has a maximum value of 80 percent, are Value Index Leaders Oracle, Optymyze and Xactly. The vendors that rank the highest overall on the customer assurance axis, which has a maximum value of 20 percent, are Value Index Leaders IBM, Oracle and Xactly. These vendors represent best-in-class approaches to sales performance management in these aggregated categories of product and customer assurance.
We warn that close vendor performance ratings should not be taken to imply that the packages evaluated are functionally identical or equally well suited for use by every organization or for a specific process. Although there is a high degree of commonality in how organizations handle sales performance management, there are many idiosyncrasies and differences in how they do these functions that can make one vendor’s offering a better fit than another’s with a particular organization’s needs.
After more than a decade of technology advances, all the products we evaluated are feature-rich, but not all the capabilities they offer are equally valuable to users. Moreover, the existence of too many capabilities may be a negative factor for an organization if it introduces unnecessary complexity. Nonetheless, one company may decide that a larger number of options is a plus, especially if some of them match its established practices or better support a new initiative that is driving the purchase of new software.
Other factors besides features and functions or assessments about the vendor can turn out to be a deciding factor. For example, a company may face budget constraints such that the TCO evaluation can tip the balance to one vendor or another. We urge organizations to do a thorough job of evaluating sales performance management systems and tools and offer this Value Index as both the results of our in-depth analysis of these vendors and as an evaluation methodology. The Value Index can be used to evaluate existing suppliers and also provides evaluation criteria for new projects; applying it can shorten the cycle time for an RFP.
Seven of the vendors responded positively to our requests for information and provided completed questionnaires and demonstrations to help in our analysis of their sales performance management products. SAP and Optymyze declined to fully participate in our assessment. To organizations evaluating these vendors, we recommend extra scrutiny as part of the software assessment because they did not make their technology or complete information available for the Value Index evaluation process; online material that was generally available was used for the analysis along with briefings and information provided. This report includes products generally available as of August 2019. We did not include a number of other vendors in this Value Index evaluation because they did not satisfy the criteria that our methodology for this research requires.
Our firm has made every effort to encompass in this Value Index the functional requirements and capabilities of our Sales Performance Management blueprint, which we believe reflects what a well-crafted RFP should contain. Even so, there may be additional areas that affect which vendor and products best fit your particular requirements. Therefore, while this research is complete as it stands, utilizing it in your own organizational context is critical to ensure that products deliver the highest level of support for your projects in this area. You can get more details as well as the full Value Index Market Report on our site.