Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

Some Ways To Get More Bang for Your IT Buck

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 25, 2012 10:09:24 AM

One of the major issues IT executives face is how to charge their departmental costs back to each part of the business according to their usage. It’s a touchy issue that can be the source of end-user disenchantment with the performance and contribution of the IT organization. Ultimately, charge-back friction can hobble IT’s ability to make necessary investments in new capabilities and become the primary cause of misallocated IT spending. The two risks are related: Unless an IT department can calculate the real costs of the services it provides to specific parts of the business and charge for them accordingly, it is almost impossible for line-of-business department managers to assign priorities to the “keep the lights on” part of the budget, so even low-priority maintenance or upgrade efforts can crowd out all but the most pressing needs. The issue of allocating IT department costs spills over to Finance, which typically handles the allocations in budgeting and profit calculations. As a first step toward establishing an effective means of funding the IT function, I believe the finance department must establish better methods of allocating IT costs. Eventually the proper allocation of IT costs also becomes an issue for senior corporate executives as well because it has a direct impact on how effectively a company uses information technology.

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Topics: Performance Management, Operational Performance Management (OPM), ABC, Budgeting, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, CIO, Enterprise Software, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Activity Based Costing, Allocations, CEO

Vertex’s Tax Data Warehouse Matures

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 20, 2012 10:23:33 AM

I recently had a briefing from Vertex on its tax data warehouse (TDW), a key component of its tax technology platform Vertex Enterprise. The TDW concept has been around for decades, but the earliest versions were custom-built and hampered by the technology limitations of their day. This made them expensive to deploy and maintain and constrained their ability to adapt to changing corporate requirements. The basic idea behind a TDW is straightforward: a data store that makes all tax data readily available and can be used to plan and provision a company’s taxes. But the complexity of tax-related data overwhelmed the ability of information technology to deliver on the concept. With today’s technological advances the basic idea is finally realizable in a practical sense.

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Topics: Master Data Management, Performance Management, finance transformation, legal, multinational, Tax, tax compliance, tax data warehouse, tax department, tax optimization, tax planning, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM)

Reorganized Epicor Has Strategy for Competing

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 19, 2012 7:42:48 AM

I recently received an update from ERP software vendor Epicor, my first since it was acquired in May 2011 by Apax Partners, a private equity company, and simultaneously merged with Activant, an ERP and point-of-sale software company serving midsize retailers and distributors. In my view, taking the company private is a good idea since it will have to make ongoing investments that would not have been treated kindly by the stock market. Bringing Epicor and Activant together (and perhaps adding other companies to the portfolio) could allow the entity to spread some development costs over a broader base of revenues, but software combinations are difficult to execute well.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SAP, Social Media, ERP, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Dynamics, Epicor, Sage, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CRM, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Social, Activant, Apax, Financial Performance Management, integration

Infor’s Management Outlines Corporate and Software Strategy

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 16, 2012 10:58:19 AM

I recently met with Infor’s management team, led by CEO Charles Phillips. Phillips joined Infor in October 2010 after leaving Oracle, taking several other executives with him, including Duncan Angove, now president of Infor, and Pam Murphy, now the COO. In addition to the changes in the executive suite, Soma Somasundaram, who had been at Infor and its predecessor companies since 1995, became EVP in charge of R&D. A private company, Infor had been keeping a low profile for the past several years, probably because results were nothing to brag about, and I suspect Phillips wanted to wait until there were substantive improvements to point to before fully engaging with analysts. Subsequent to his arrival, Golden Gate Capital, the private equity firm that assembled Infor from dozens of once-independent software companies, acquired ERP vendor Lawson Software in July 2011. Lawson itself had merged with Intentia, a Swedish ERP company in 2005. I estimate pro-forma 2011 revenues for Infor plus Lawson for a full year at $2.7 billion (the company has not published this number). This is only a fraction of 2011 revenues for SAP (about $14.5 billion) and Oracle’s applications ($6.8 billion). Infor reported that organic growth in license revenues was 17 percent, roughly in line with comparable companies, and executives indicated in the meeting that maintenance renewals have improved.

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Topics: Salesforce.com, Social Media, ERP, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Epiphany, expense management, Lawson Software, supply chain management, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management

Action-Oriented Analytics Can Help Manage Risk

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 12, 2012 9:37:08 AM

Risk has always been an integral part of business, but as I’ve noted, companies deal with risk with varying degrees of effectiveness. A complex, ongoing process, operational risk management identifies risks to support successful operations of an organization, estimates the monetary and other measurable impacts if a risk event occurs, establishes methods for mitigating the severity of impacts should they occur, continuously measures the probability of a risk occurring within a relevant period of time, periodically reports on the risk environment to appropriate decision-makers and alerts executives and managers when risk thresholds are crossed. These important activities should make operational risk management of greater interest to executives in today’s volatile business environment.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Governance, GRC, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, balanced scorecard, enterprise risk management, key risk indicators, KRI, risk and compliance, risk measurement, Business Analytics, In-memory, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Risk, Sales Performance Management (SPM), operational risk management

Tidemark Reaches the Starting Gate

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 3, 2012 11:50:22 AM

My colleague Mark Smith and I recently chatted with executives of Tidemark, a company in the early stages of providing business analytics for decision-makers. It has a roster of experienced executive talent and solid financial backing. There’s a strategic link with Workday that reflects a common background at the operational and investor levels. As it gets rolling, Tidemark is targeting large and very companies as customers for its cloud-based system for analyzing data. It can automate alerts and enhance operating visibility, collaboratively assess the potential impacts of decisions and support the process of implementing those decisions.

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Topics: Big Data, Data Warehousing, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, GRC, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Budgeting, Master Data, Risk Analytics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Data Governance, Data Integration, Hadoop, In-Memory Computing, Information Management, Mobility, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Risk, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workday, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, Integrated Business Planning