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

Cutting Audit Costs Significantly? It’s Actually Possible

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 3, 2019 7:00:00 AM

For years I’ve viewed with skepticism the claim that one technology or another will reduce audit costs. For one, there’s rarely a silver bullet. An array of moving parts drive audit fees. For example, the complexity of the corporation, accounting data management and the audit staff’s familiarity with the industry and the company all affect the time auditors must spend. Also, most of the time I’ve found that achieving significant savings was not the result of going from good to great, but from fixing deep-seated issues. If a company’s books and accounting practices are a mess, it can achieve considerable savings simply by cleaning up its act. In this circumstance, technology can play a part of a broader initiative that addresses the people, process and data management elements that are behind the mess.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, AI and Machine Learning

CFOs in Midsize Companies Face Challenges

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 25, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently published benchmark research findings on the Office of Finance, many of which show a trend in the right direction. Organizations are closing the books sooner; financial planning and analysis has improved; and companies are more frequently establishing Finance IT groups to manage the increasingly technological requirements for effectiveness.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance, Predictive Planning

FP&A Performance Is Improving, But …

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 6, 2019 7:00:00 AM

The financial planning and analysis (FP&A) group is the linchpin of any transformation effort in the Office of Finance. Our recently completed Office of Finance benchmark research was conducted against the backdrop of the idea that finance organizations must play a more strategic role in the management of the modern organization. This transformation envisions a finance department that’s more of a partner to the rest of the company — one that is less focused on “bean counting,” instead directing its resources and energy to providing more insightful analytics, facilitating transactions of value and communicating actionable data analyses that enable managers to make better decisions more consistently. The research uncovered advances in how corporations handle analytics as well as budgeting and planning. Yet the research also indicates that there is much left to be done in most companies.

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Topics: Office of Finance, embedded analytics, Analytics, Financial Performance Management, robotic finance, Predictive Planning

Achieve Fatter Margins with Dynamic CPQ

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 30, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Configure, price and quote (CPQ) software has been around for decades. Lately, I’ve been using the term “Dynamic CPQ” to apply to a variant of this software category that explicitly aims to produce a quote that optimizes the trade-off between the profitability of a deal and the probability of closing a sale. Dynamic CPQ software is a hybrid of price and revenue optimization (PRO) software and CPQ, providing companies with the ability to better execute their market share and pricing strategies. It’s designed especially for business-to-business (B2B) relationships that involve sales agents in the pricing process.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Data Preparation, Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, robotic finance, revenue and lease accounting, sales enablement

Be FIT: Modern Finance Needs Finance IT

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 17, 2019 7:00:00 AM

The traditional office of finance has five main organs: accounting keeps the books; financial planning and analysis (FP&A) analyzes performance and manages the forward-looking activities of the company such as planning, budgeting and forecasting; corporate finance raises outside money; treasury takes care of the cash and bank accounts, and tax. The modern office of finance requires a sixth: Finance IT (FIT).

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Topics: Office of Finance, Analytics, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Technology, Operations & Supply Chain, ERP and Continuous Accounting, blockchain, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, revenue and lease accounting, collaborative computing, subscription management

Finally, a Faster Close

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 7, 2019 7:00:00 AM

A quarter century ago the “fast, clean close” became a key measure of a finance and accounting department’s effectiveness. Since then there has been general agreement that companies should be able to close their books within a business week. Our research on the accounting close has consistently shown that companies with very similar characteristics (measured in terms of revenue, number of employees, location and industry) vary considerably in the number of days it takes them to complete their accounting cycle. The lack of connection between the structural conditions of a corporation and the time it takes to close the books suggests that the obstacles to a faster close are not innate, but the result of poor process design and execution, insufficient automation of the process as well as choices made by finance executives. One of those choices is deciding — for whatever reason — not to close sooner.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, robotic finance

Dynamic Insights from Research on Finance Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 19, 2019 8:30:00 AM

By itself, data isn’t useful for business; the application of analytics is necessary to transform data into actionable information. Data analysis of one sort or another has long been a core competence of finance departments, applied to balance sheets, income statements or cash flow statements. Today, however, Finance must go beyond these basics by expanding the scope of the data being examined to include all financial and operational information that can yield actionable insights. Analysis thus should include, for example, data from the systems that manage sales operations, human resources and field service and that data must be available to all departments and applications that need it.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Voice of the Customer, business intelligence, embedded analytics, Learning Management, Analytics, Collaboration, Data Governance, Data Lake, Data Preparation, Information Management, Internet of Things, Contact Center, Data, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management, Workforce Management, Financial Performance Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Technology, Digital Marketing, Digital Commerce, ERP and Continuous Accounting, blockchain, natural language processing, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, candidate engagement, Intelligent CX, Conversational Computing, Continuous Payroll, AI and Machine Learning, revenue and lease accounting, collaborative computing, mobile computing, subscription management, agent management, extended reality

TradeLens Emerges in a New Era of Trade

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 17, 2019 8:30:00 AM

What’s the easiest way to completely immobilize a 500,000-ton ship?

Lose a sheet of paper.

The paperwork that accompanies international trade is a serious source of friction, inefficiency — and therefore cost — in supply chain execution. Trade documentation requires massive amounts of paper that today can be replaced by digital data. In 2018, Maersk, the world’s largest shipping company, teamed up with IBM to create TradeLens, a digital platform that utilizes blockchain technology as a secure, unified source of trade transaction data used by businesses, financial institutions and government authorities. TradeLens is designed to enable all participants to connect, share information and collaborate, providing them with a comprehensive view of the data they need to transact trade. The system makes it possible to digitally collaborate in handling their global supply chains.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Internet of Things, Data, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, blockchain, continuous supply chain

News from the 2019 Infor Innovation Summit

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 14, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Infor recently held their Innovation Summit at Infor corporate headquarters in New York. At this annual event, they spend a good deal of time talking about progress on current initiatives and the exciting parts of the development roadmap.  A key focus this year was AI and machine learning with Infor Coleman.

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Topics: ERP, Office of Finance, Infor, Enterprise Resource Planning

IBM Blockchain Earns Our Innovation Award

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 8, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Ventana Research has awarded IBM its 2019 Digital Innovation Award. This award recognizes the vendor’s support for identity management using blockchain technology through IBM Verify Credentials. The application is a first, small step in establishing a blockchain-enabled system for decentralized identity management, a technology that ultimately will enable point-to-point exchange of information about people, organizations or things. This form of identity management has considerable potential in the following areas:

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Topics: Human Capital Management, Collaboration, Workforce Management, Work and Resource Management, blockchain