Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

NetSuite Rides Wave of Cloud ERP Adoption

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 29, 2014 11:52:54 PM

Like other vendors of cloud-based ERP software, NetSuite offers the key benefits of software as a service (SaaS): a smaller upfront investment, faster time to value and potentially lower operating costs. Beyond that NetSuite’s essential point of competitive differentiation from is broad functionality beyond financial management, including capabilities for customer relationship management (CRM), professional services automation (PSA) and human capital management (HCM). These components make it easier for businesses to manage processes from end to end (such as quote- or order-to-cash) as well as to have transactions and business data available in a single system in consistent forms and synchronized. This in turn facilitates real-time reporting, dashboards and the use of analytics that integrate a wider set of functional data. Midsize companies are most likely to benefit from this integration because typically they have smaller, less sophisticated IT staffs than larger ones. A side benefit of having a single, integrated data source is improvement of situational awareness and visibility for executives and managers. It also enables organizations to reduce their use of spreadsheets for stitching together processes, doing routine analyses and reporting. These sorts of activities waste valuable time and reduce an organization’s agility.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Operational Performance Management (OPM), communications, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, process, PSA, reseller, Sage Software, UI, Unit4, user experience, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Social, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Plex, Professional Services Automation, Workday Collaboration

IBM Advances Business Experience in Using Advanced Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 3, 2014 9:13:32 PM

The developed world has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to information technology. Individuals walk around with far more computing power and data storage in their pockets than was required to send men to the moon. People routinely hold on their laps what would have been considered a supercomputer a generation ago. There is a wealth of information available on the Web. And the costs of these information assets are a tiny fraction of what they were decades ago. Consumer products have been at the forefront in utilizing information technology capabilities. The list of innovations is staggering. The “smart” phone is positively brilliant. Games are now a far bigger business than motion pictures.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Performance, user experience, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, IBM, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Social, Financial Performance Management, SPSS

Epicor Faces a Challenging Future

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 2, 2014 9:46:32 AM

Epicor used its recent user group conference to explain its strategic direction and product roadmap. The company is the result of multiple mergers of business software corporations over the past 15 years; its target customers are midsize companies and midsize divisions of larger organizations. Its most significant products are Epicor (ERP software aimed mainly at manufacturing and distribution companies) and Activant Solutions (software for small and midsize retailers, including a point-of-sale system). The company also has software that manages CRM, HR and human capital and supply chains,  and provides financial performance management (FPM) and governance, risk and compliance (GRC) capabilities. These components of the software suites are adequate for the needs of many of the company’s target customers and are not intended as stand-alone applications.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Operational Performance Management (OPM), communications, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, Epicor, process, reseller, Sage Software, UI, Unit4, user experience, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workday, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Social, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Plex

The Challenge of Making ERP Systems More Configurable

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 31, 2014 9:43:58 AM

In the wake of the past year’s usual crop of failed ERP implementations, I’ve read a couple of blogs that bemoan the fact that ERP systems are not nearly as user-friendly or intuitive as the mobile apps that everyone loves. I’ve complained about this aspect of ERP, and our research confirms that ERP systems are viewed as cumbersome: Just one in five companies (21%) said it is easy to make changes to ERP systems while one-third (33%) said making changes is difficult or very difficult. Yet as with many such technology topics, addressing the difficulty in working with ERP systems is not as straightforward as one might hope. ERP software vendors must make it easier, less expensive and less risky for customers to adapt the systems they buy to their changing business needs. To do this, vendors must design products to be more configurable. The goal should be that organizations can make changes and add new capabilities to their ERP system in far less time than it takes today and without having to engage outside consultants.

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Topics: Mobile, SAP, ERP, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Workday, Social, business process, FPM, Intacct

Next-Generation ERP Must Take a Giant Leap

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 25, 2013 12:09:01 AM

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems emerged in the 1990s. Even though they don’t do much in the way of planning, the systems provide companies a means of centralizing and consolidating transaction data collection (such as purchase orders, inventory movements and depreciation), automating the management of processes, and handling the bookkeeping and financial record keeping for these transactions and related processes. ERP systems are an indispensable piece of IT infrastructure in today’s enterprises. Alas, they also are inherently flawed. But perhaps not for much longer.

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Topics: Mobile, SAP, Social Media, ERP, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Infor, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workday, Social, FPM, Intacct

Social Collaboration Is in Finance’s Future

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 10, 2013 11:00:10 AM

Finance departments don’t immediately come to mind in conversations about social collaboration technology. Most of the software used for social collaboration that I’ve seen demonstrated focuses on the sales process or for broader employee engagement. The Facebook-style interface may cause finance department managers and executives to roll their eyes, especially if they’re over 40 years old. Yet business and social collaboration is an important set of capabilities that has been taking hold in business. Our benchmark research shows it ranking second behind analytics as a technology innovation priority. It will gain adoption over the next several years as software transitions from the rigid constructs established in the client/server days, which force users to adapt to the limitations of the software, to fluid and dynamic designs that mold themselves around the needs of the user. Perhaps because most of the attention so far on the benefits of collaboration has focused on front-office roles, there’s less awareness of the potential in back-office and administrative functions. Indeed, the same research reveals that those in front-office roles five times more often than those in accounting and finance roles (21% vs. a mere 4%) said that business and social collaboration are very important to their organization. However, I assert it’s just a matter of time before the finance group understands that social collaboration has substantial potential to improve its performance.

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Topics: ERP, Operational Performance Management (OPM), communications, process, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), CRM, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Social, FPM

SAP Announces Business Suite on HANA

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 11, 2013 11:31:24 AM

For the past couple of years I’ve been pointing to the importance of in-memory computing to the future of business applications. It’s an integral part of Ventana Research’s business and finance research agenda for 2013, and it’s one of the core technologies that senior executives should have an appreciation for because it can transform all core business processes, especially those that are analytic in nature.

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Topics: Mobile, Predictive Analytics, Real-time, SAP, ERP, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, In-memory, Business Performance Management (BPM), CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Social, Business Suite, Financial Performance Management, HANA

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