Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

Why Automating Reconciliations Must be a Priority

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 25, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Reconciling accounts at the end of a period is one of those mundane finance department tasks that are ripe for automation. Reconciliation is the process of comparing account data (at the balance or item level) that exists either in two accounting systems or in an accounting system and somewhere else (such as in a spreadsheet or on paper). The purpose of the reconciling process is to identify things that do not match (as they must in double-entry bookkeeping systems) and then assess the nature and causes of the variances. This is followed by making adjustments or corrections to ensure that the information in an organization’s books is accurate. Most of the time, reconciliation is a matter of good housekeeping that identifies errors and omissions in the accounting process, including invalid journal postings and duplicate accounting entries, so they can be corrected. Reconciliation also is an important line of defense against fraud since inconsistencies may be a sign of such activity.

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Topics: Office of Finance, automation, Reconciliation

Progress for AI in Office of Finance Applications

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 18, 2022 3:00:00 AM

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) using machine learning (ML) will be the single most important trend in business software this decade because it can multiply the investment value of such applications and provide vendors an important source of differentiation to achieve a competitive advantage in what are today very mature software categories. I assert that by 2025, almost all Office of Finance software vendors will have incorporated some AI capabilities to reduce workloads and improve performance. However, software vendors will be challenged to apply innovations in this area quickly while ensuring that the AI capabilities function well enough in the real world to foster rapid adoption while avoiding user frustration. The failures of the Apple Newton and Microsoft’s Clippy office assistant stand out as examples of too-ambitious-too-soon attempts at infusing intelligent automation.

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Topics: Office of Finance, embedded analytics, Data Management, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance

The Value Index for Business Planning Classifies and Rates Vendors

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 14, 2022 3:00:00 AM

I am happy to share insights gleaned from our latest Value Index research, an assessment of how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements. The Ventana Research Value Index: Business Planning 2022 is the distillation of a year of market and product research. Drawing on our Benchmark Research, we apply a structured methodology built on evaluation categories that reflect real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal to business planning vendors supporting the spectrum of planning. Using this methodology, we evaluated vendor submissions in seven categories: five relevant to the product experience ﹘ Adaptability, Capability, Manageability, Reliability and Usability ﹘ and two related to the customer experience ﹘ Total Cost of Ownership/Return on Investment and Vendor Validation.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning

Business Planning Software Unifies Siloed Planning

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 11, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Having just completed the 2022 Ventana Research Value Index for Business Planning, I want to share some of my observations about the business planning software market and how it has advanced as an important part of our market coverage for almost two decades. Dedicated applications for planning and budgeting have been around since the 1980s and are, therefore, quite mature, with robust features and functionality as well as continual refinements in usability and performance. Outwardly, the specifications for offerings in this category appear very similar, but how the software works is at least as important to buyers’ preferences. Moreover, planning is not a mechanical process, so despite limited differentiation at the surface, an organization can find that one vendor’s offering is a better fit for its individual approach to planning than others.

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Topics: Planning, Office of Finance, Budgeting, Business Planning

The Office of Finance Market Agenda for 2022: Effectiveness and Profits

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 9, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2022 Market Agenda for the Office of Finance, continuing the guidance we have offered since 2003 on the practical use of technology for the finance and accounting department. Our insights and best practices aim to enable organizations to operate with agility and resiliency, improving performance and delivering greater value as a strategic partner.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, Revenue, blockchain, robotic finance, Predictive Planning, AI and Machine Learning, lease and tax accounting, profitability management

2022 Market Agenda: Increasing Supply Chain Agility and Resilience

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 2, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2022 research agenda for Operations and Supply Chain, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations across industries derive optimal value from business technology and improve outcomes.

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Topics: Continuous Planning, Product Information Management, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, continuous supply chain, supplier relationship management, Property Technology

Augmented Reality Will Evolutionize Business Computing

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 25, 2022 3:00:00 AM

As with many IT innovations, augmented reality (AR), extended reality (XR) and the related topic of spatial computing had been discussed to death long before they became a practical reality. As a user interface, AR is already well understood in terms of its ability to open vast new vistas in entertainment as well as making physical tasks, such as machinery maintenance and warehouse pick-and-pack, far more efficient. In the case of spatial computing, by using glasses to superimpose workflow directions, instructional videos, messages and the like onto the three-dimensional world, individuals can complete tasks faster with little formal training and make fewer errors in the process. So, long before these AR devices, tools and their related UI techniques are adapted to create a new era of immersive business computing, here are some thoughts on this idea.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Digital transformation, natural language processing, extended reality, Digital Business, robotic automation, Collaborative & Conversational Computing

Configure, Price and Quote Software Supports Profitability Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 7, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Pricing is an issue that almost every for-profit company confronts – and usually agonizes over. Chief financial officers must play a part in setting the strategic direction of pricing in their organization. They should not be involved in tactical pricing decisions because they are not close enough to markets and customers, but they should be part of the strategic design of pricing, especially as part of a profitability management effort, which I’ve discussed before.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Analytics, Financial Performance Management, Digital Commerce, Digital Business, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement

Tackling ESG Reporting Challenges

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 21, 2021 3:00:00 AM

ESG reporting is a matter that organizations – and especially publicly held corporations – will be confronting over the next several years. Ventana Research asserts that by 2025, one-half of corporations with 1,000 or more employees will have a formal ESG reporting process in place to address legal mandates or shareholder demand. The roots of ESG investing go back many decades but it has gained significant attention recently as demand in the investment world for non-accounting measures to guide ethical investments has grown. Organizations face three distinct challenges in dealing with ESG. In this analyst perspective, Ventana Research SVP and Research Director Robert Kugel discusses the considerations and benefits of organizing your organization’s ESG reporting.

AP_RK_ESG Reporting Readiness
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Topics: FP&A, Governance, Office of Finance, Reporting, CFO, ESG

Fix Sales and Operations Planning to Improve Financial Efficiency

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 10, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Several years ago, I noted the importance of gaining resilience in managing supply chains. The world had entered a new era of trade following the financial crisis of 2007, as multilateral relationships were steadily fragmenting. For decades, sourcing and supply chain management was focused almost exclusively on achieving the lowest cost, and the world’s trade environment supported this approach. However, I observed that the new era of trade, supply chain planning and execution, would be more complex, and organizations needed to shift focus to emphasize business continuity and sustainability, accommodating change with the least disruption at the lowest cost. Sourcing decisions, logistics and product design would be crafted with an eye to a far-from-perfect and changeable world. Higher costs would be balanced against necessary resilience and sustainability, supported by the ability to make changes rapidly with assurance and limited risk.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Continuous Planning, Business Planning, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, continuous supply chain