Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

About the Analyst

Robert Kugel

Rob heads up the CFO and business research focusing on the intersection of information technology with the finance organization and business. The financial performance management (FPM) research agenda includes the application of IT to financial process optimization and collaborative systems; control systems and analytics; and advanced budgeting and planning. Prior to joining Ventana Research he was an equity research analyst at several firms including First Albany Corporation, Morgan Stanley, and Drexel Burnham, and a consultant with McKinsey and Company. Rob was an Institutional Investor All-American Team member and on the Wall Street Journal All-Star list. Rob has experience in aerospace and defense, banking, manufacturing and retail and consumer services. Rob earned his BA in Economics/Finance at Hampshire College, an MBA in Finance/Accounting at Columbia University, and is a CFA charter holder.


Recent Posts

Blockchains Come in Different Shapes and Sizes

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 27, 2018 11:23:51 PM

Blockchains are attractive because their built-in security and trust factors make them useful for almost all business interactions involving organizations and individuals. Blockchains have two basic functions. One is as a method for handling transactions involving property such as land deeds, trademarks or other assets. The second involves exchanges of data such as identities of individuals or businesses, the location of an object at a point in time or weather conditions. All interactions involving property or assets include the transfer of data as well, of course, but some blockchain use cases are informational only.

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Topics: Big Data, data science, Mobile, Marketing Performance Management, Office of Finance, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Data Governance, Data Integration, Data Preparation, Internet of Things, digital technology, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, Operations & Supply Chain

Workday Advances Technology Roadmap for Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 21, 2018 6:38:29 AM

Workday recently presented a technology summit for industry analysts. The presentations focused on Workday’s ongoing product advancements as well as its approach to employing emerging technologies. These technologies include artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), robotic process automation (RPA) and bots utilizing natural language processing. Ventana Research uses the term robotic finance to refer to these technologies when used in the office of finance. In our view, they will have a profound impact on the nature of white-collar work over the coming decade. Financial management and ERP software vendors are focusing on these technologies because they will disproportionately affect finance and accounting departments: I estimate that their adoption has the potential to eliminate one-third of the accounting department’s workload within a decade.

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Topics: Big Data, data science, Mobile, Machine Learning, Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting

OneStream Delivers Financial Performance Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 4, 2018 9:35:31 AM

OneStream XF from OneStream Software is a financial performance management (FPM) platform available on-premises or in the cloud. The company is a relative newcomer (it started in 2010) but its founders are industry veterans and it has a long list of referenceable customers. Being self-financed, it only recently began to raise its market profile. Its SmartCPM system consists of software for statutory financial consolidation, planning, forecasting, budgeting and reporting that’s used primarily by midsize and larger corporations, including large multinationals with complex ownership structures. Designed as a platform, OneStream XF fits into the company’s strategy to offer an array of financial applications developed by itself or third-parties that use a single authoritative source of data.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Analytics, HRMS, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Sales Planning and Analytics

Oracle’s Modern Finance Experience is Robotic

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 2, 2018 7:39:48 AM

After more than a decade of steady development, ERP systems today are changing fundamentally, facilitated by the availability of advances such as cloud computing, advanced database architecture, collaboration, improved user-interface design, mobility, analytics and planning. This was evident when Oracle recently held its third analysts-only ERP Cloud Summit in New York to coincide with its Modern Finance Experience event. Oracle now has an increasingly robust set of business applications that reside in the cloud and a growing list of live customers – large and midsize – from a range of industries across the world, both of which were offered as part of the here-and-now technology theme at the event.

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Topics: Mobile, ERP, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing, Robotic Process Automation, Artificial intelligence, blockchain, AI

Warning: Software Now Mandatory for Lease Accounting

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 16, 2018 1:00:00 PM

Accountants love electronic spreadsheets – and for good reason. They’re a powerful and versatile personal productivity tool and just about everyone knows how to use them. Spreadsheets are the default software tool for accountants because they enable autonomy (you don’t need to ask IT for anything) and they’re free (so you don’t have to make a business case to authorize buying something). Some accountants humorously (but earnestly) invoke the line “you’ll have to pry this spreadsheet from my cold, dead hands” whenever somebody suggests eliminating them.

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Topics: ERP, Office of Finance, Continuous Accounting, Controller, FASB, IASB, CFO, Financial Performance Management, Spreadsheets, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, revenue recognition, Accounting, Lease Accounting, real estate, Lease Management, ASC842, IFRS16, leasing

Pricing Software and the CFO

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 13, 2018 9:53:21 AM

Pricing is an issue that almost every for-profit company confronts – and usually agonizes over. Organizations’ approach to pricing can range from centralized to decentralized and from highly disciplined to lax. Whether pricing is best handled in a centralized or decentralized fashion depends a great deal on the markets the company is serving as well as its organizational structure and culture. However specific pricing policies are established, though, a disciplined approach to price setting and negotiation is always superior to an ad-hoc process. Discipline is key to preventing margin “leakage” caused by unnecessary price concessions. Configure, price and quote (CPQ) software is a critical component in any leakage-prevention strategy.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Enterprise Resource Planning

SAP Highlights Its Blockchain Efforts

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 26, 2018 12:07:03 PM

SAP recently held a teleconference to highlight its blockchain strategy. Lately, the major business software vendors have been calling attention to their blockchain initiatives. While the focus on this technology might seem premature to those who still equate it with cryptocurrencies, evidence is pointing to a future pace of adoption similar to the rapid take-up of the internet in the 1990s. That blockchain is useful for a wide range of business functions isn’t news – just google “blockchain use cases.” Payment, provenance, testament and efficiency are four main themes driving a multitude of applications of the technology. That said, blockchain isn’t technology in search of a mission but is something more like the internet, both in its broad utility and in value multiplication through network effects.

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Topics: Machine Learning, Office of Finance, finance transformation, Robotic Process Automation, Artificial intelligence, blockchain, AI, bots, robotic finance

The Modern Finance Organization is a Technology Fast Follower

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 15, 2018 10:08:14 AM

Robots of the physical sort are not about to take over finance and accounting but we have arrived at the age of “Robotic Finance”. I coined this term to focus on four key technologies with transformative capabilities: artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotic process automation, bots and natural language processing and blockchain distributed ledger technology. Embracing these technologies will enable any department to redefine itself as a forward-looking strategic partner to the rest of the company.

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Topics: Machine Learning, close, closing, Robotic Process Automation, Artificial intelligence, blockchain, AI, Accounting, bots, robotic finance

Self-Describing Data Powers B2B Blockchain Distributed Ledgers

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 15, 2018 7:23:11 AM

The use of blockchain distributed ledgers in business processes is now a common theme in many business software vendors’ presentations. The technology has a multitude of potential uses. However, presentations about the opportunities for digital transformation always leave me wondering: How is this magic going to happen? I wonder this because the details about how data flows from point A to point B via a blockchain are critically important to blockchain utility and therefore the pace of its adoption.

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Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Forecast, FP&A, Machine Learning, Reporting, budget, Budgeting, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Data Management, Cognitive Computing, Integrated Business Planning, AI, forecasting, consolidating

Predictive Finance Organizations Are More Valuable

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 12, 2018 4:32:47 AM

Ventana Research uses the term “predictive finance” to describe a forward-looking, action-oriented finance organization that places emphasis on advising its company rather than fulfilling the traditional roles of a transactions processor and reporter. Technology is driving the shift away from the traditional bean-counting role. The cumulative evolution of software advances will substantially reduce finance and accounting workloads by automating most of the mechanical, rote functions in accounting, data preparation and reporting. (I recently summarized these in a “Robotic Finance”)

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Topics: Planning, Predictive Analytics, Forecast, FP&A, Machine Learning, Reporting, budget, Budgeting, Continuous Planning, Analytics, Data Management, Cognitive Computing, Integrated Business Planning, AI, forecasting, consolidating