Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

ERP Can Help Transform Finance

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 25, 2016 1:04:12 AM

Like many other industry observers I’ve heard overblown claims for information technology for decades. However, I’ve also observed that – eventually – reality catches up with vision. Finance and accounting departments are particularly resistant to change, yet because almost no corporations use adding machines or typewriters any more, it’s clear that transformative change can happen. Nonetheless, because users of business computing systems are inundated with “it’s better than ever” promotions by vendors, journalists and industry analysts, may have grown jaded and disbelieving. In the case of ERP systems that help run many organizations, that is too bad because we are finally at the point of a fundamental change in this business-critical software category.

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Topics: Social Media, Mobile Technology, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Human Capital, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Accounting, Analytics, big data, Budgeting, CEO, C

Get to Know Enterprise Spreadsheets to Improve Business Effectiveness

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 25, 2016 12:14:45 AM

Ventana Research coined the term “enterprise spreadsheet” in 2004 to describe a variety of software applications that add a desktop spreadsheet’s user interface (usually that of Microsoft Excel) to components that address the issues that arise when desktop spreadsheets are used in repetitive, collaborative enterprise processes. Enterprise spreadsheets are designed to provide the best of both worlds in that they offer the ease of use and flexibility of desktop spreadsheets while overcoming their defects – chiefly inability to maintain data integrity, lack of referential integrity and dimensionality, absence of workflow and process controls, limited security and access controls as well as poor auditability. All of these issues can cause serious problems for business use, which I’ll discuss below.

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Topics: Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Analytics, Uncategorized, Business Intelligence (BI), Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Analytics, benchmark, enterprise spreadsheet, Fina

Vendavo Builds Price and Revenue Optimization into Business Processes

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 1, 2016 9:02:00 AM

Vendavo is a vendor of business-to-business (B2B) price and revenue optimization software, which I have written about. A major focus of the conference sessions this year at the company’s annual user group meeting was on practical approaches to successful price optimization initiatives. While this category of software has been achieving increasing acceptance, penetration is still limited in the B2B segment, which includes, for example, industrial goods and services.

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Topics: Big Data, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Analytics, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Vendavo, price, pricing, optimization, revenue, cu

IBM Watson and Cognitive Computing to Streamline Compliance

Posted by Ventana Research on Aug 5, 2016 9:45:34 AM

Today’s proponents of artificial intelligence (AI) tend to focus on its spectacular uses such as self-driving cars and uplifting ones such as medical treatment. AI also has the potential to aid humanity in more modest ways such as eliminating the need for individuals to do tedious repetitive work in white-collar areas. Along these lines, at its recent Vision users conference, IBM displayed an application of its Watson cognitive computing technology designed to automate important aspects of regulatory and legal compliance. Should it prove workable, the application of cognitive computing to compliance could be the first step in achieving what various “Paperwork Reduction Act” legislation has failed to do: substantially cutting the time needed to comply with rules imposed by government entities.

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Topics: Operational Performance Management (OPM), Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Uncategorized, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), GRC, governance, risk, compliance, risk management

Distributed Ledgers Have Business Value beyond Bitcoin

Posted by Ventana Research on Jul 28, 2016 2:59:13 AM

The blockchain distributed database was invented to create the peer-to-peer digital cash called bitcoin in 2008. Although the future potential of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has been debated, the distributed ledger structure using a blockchain database that supports bitcoin is likely to be adopted for a range of commercial and governmental purposes. Distributed ledgers are a secure and transparent way to digitally track the ownership of assets while enabling faster transaction speeds and reducing potential for fraud. How quickly companies, governments and individuals start using distributed ledgers and for what specific purposes remain to be seen, but their use will be independent of cryptocurrencies’ fortunes. Expansion in the use of distributed ledgers will depend heavily on the success of the initial applications and whether there are major hiccups in their use.

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Topics: Operational Performance Management (OPM), Uncategorized, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), blockchain, distributed ledger, DLT, ERP, SCM, sup

Big Data Drives Price and Revenue Optimization

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 25, 2016 9:13:30 AM

Information technology enables a data-driven management style that was not feasible until powerful, affordable computers became generally available. There’s no bright line marking when this became possible; the process is ongoing. People were using financial analytics long before ENIAC, the first general-purpose computer, appeared, but the metrics available were not especially timely, broadly applicable to day-to-day situations or comprehensive enough to inform most management decision-making. Even today, there are many areas of business management where companies continue to operate much as they have in the past. One of those is pricing.

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Topics: Big Data, Operational Performance Management (OPM), price, pricing, optimization, revenue, customer, c, Business Analytics, Uncategorized, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM)

SAP Faces Challenges with Customer Assurance and Digital Boardroom

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 18, 2016 5:39:25 AM

There were two noteworthy themes in SAP CEO Bill McDermott’s keynote at this year’s Sapphire conference. One was customer assurance; that is, placing greater emphasis on making the implementation of even complex business software more predictable and less of an effort. This theme reflects the maturing of the enterprise applications business as it transitions from producing highly customized software to providing configurable, off-the-rack purchases. Implementing ERP will never be simple, as I have noted, but as companies increasingly adopt multitenant software as a service (SaaS), vendors will need to make their implementations as repeatable as possible and enable flexible configuration of parameters and processes that substantially reduce the billable hours required to complete a deployment. “Customer assurance” is an important stake in the ground, but it will be an empty concept unless there is complete overhaul of the entire value chain to take it beyond good intentions. Otherwise, customer assurance will be an ongoing rearguard action to overcome technology-driven challenges and disincentives for improvement. Business applications must be re-engineered to facilitate implementation, substantially reduce the likelihood of implementation errors and facilitate subsequent changes to adapt to changing business conditions. Moreover, software vendors’ partners will need to demonstrate that they can reliably cut a substantial number of billable hours per implementation engagement. This will require partners to restructure their business models. Neither of these changes will be easy to accomplish. To its credit SAP has set a course for increasing the simplicity of using its core ERP and financial management software. Getting there soon would greatly enhance its ability to retain if not gain customers in these mature markets.

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Topics: Operational Performance Management (OPM), Uncategorized, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Predictive Analytics, SAP, CFO, ERP

Infor Pursues Innovation for Business Applications

Posted by Ventana Research on May 23, 2016 7:56:24 AM

Infor recently held its annual Innovation Summit at its New York City headquarters. The company has shown leadership and creativity in business applications on two fronts: focusing its development efforts on enhancing the user experience and collaboration and building an application architecture that will deliver a rich set of functionality for ERP, financial management, CRM and HRMS and business analytics in a multitenant cloud environment. All of these advances were necessary to remake a disparate portfolio of aging software into an up-to-date set of applications. The Innovation Summits have been useful indicators of Infor’s future product and market direction. And while there has been a lag between what’s demonstrated and what’s actually available in the software, it’s not clear that this really matters. Any negative impact is limited by the slow replacement cycle for ERP (our research shows that on average companies replace their systems every 6.4 years – longer than they used to take) and conservative attitudes when it comes to core enterprise systems. Innovation doesn’t seem to be a big factor yet in selling business software to mainstream buyers, but it is likely to become more important within a few years. Changes in buyer preferences will come about as technology puts more of the design and operation of these systems in the hands of business users rather than their IT departments and outside consultants. Increasing the configurability and reducing the need for customization will cut costs, reduce the time to value in purchasing replacement applications and increase the flexibility of these notoriously inflexible systems.

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Topics: Mobile Technology, Operational Performance Management (OPM), accounting, analytics, ERP, EAM, CRM, HCM, innovat, Human Capital, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Uncategorized, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM)

Cryptic Data: Challenges and Rewards in Finding and Using It

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 18, 2016 7:18:11 PM

Using information technology to make data useful is as old as the Information Age. The difference today is that the volume and variety of  available data has grown enormously. Big data gets almost all of the attention, but there’s also cryptic data. Both are difficult to harness using basic tools and require new technology to help organizations glean actionable information from the large and chaotic mass of data. “Big data” refers to extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends and associations, especially those related to human behavior and interaction. The challenges in dealing with big data include having the computational power that can scale to the processing requirements for the volumes involved; analytical tools to work with the large data sets; and governance necessary to manage the large data sets to ensure that the results of the analysis are accurate and meaningful. But that’s not all organizations have to deal with now. I’ve coined the term “cryptic data” to focus on a different, less well known sort of data challenge that many companies and individuals face.

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Topics: Big Data, data science, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, forecasting, FP&A, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Budgeting, Connotate, cryptic, equity research, Finance Analytics, Human Capital, Kofax, Statistics, Analytics, Business Analytics, Hadoop, Business Intelligence (BI), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Data, Datawatch, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Kapow, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), import.io

Aria Enables Effective Recurring Revenue Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 7, 2016 8:36:14 PM

Aria Systems provides companies with software for managing subscription or recurring revenue business models. A recurring revenue business models includes three types of selling and billing structures: a one-time transaction plus a periodic service charge; subscription-based services involving periodic charges; or a contractual relationship that charges periodically for goods and services. Aria’s cloud-based software addresses key requirements of users in the marketing, sales, operations and accounting functions in this type of business.

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Topics: SaaS, Sales, Customer Engagement, ERP, Marketing, NetSuite, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Recurring Revenue, Billing, customer life cycle, streaming, subscription, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Customer Service, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Aria Systems, billing software, invoicing