Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

Oracle Adapts Business Applications Intelligently in the Cloud

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 31, 2016 9:30:19 AM

The annual Oracle OpenWorld user group meeting provides an opportunity to step back and take a longer view of business, industry and technology trends affecting the company. Last year, after listening to Larry Ellison’s and Mark Hurd’s vision for the future of IT, I wrote that Oracle had to continue shifting its focus to business applications because the accelerating shift to cloud computing would lead corporations to outsource their IT infrastructures, services and security to third parties. Eventually, this would substantially shrink the market for corporate IT departments, which has been Oracle’s strength. At this year’s conference the company demonstrated how it is applying its technology strengths to create a competitive advantage that it can apply to its broad business applications portfolio.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, SaaS, Artificial Intelligence, ERP, Cloud, Accounting, analytics, integration, PaaS, iaas

Steelwedge Enables Actionable and Continuous Planning

Posted by Ventana Research on Dec 16, 2015 10:30:30 PM

Supply and demand chain planning and execution have grown in importance over the past decade as companies have recognized that software can meaningfully enhance their competitiveness and improve their financial performance. Sales and operations planning (S&OP) is an integrated business management process first developed in the 1980s aimed at achieving better alignment and synchronization between the supply chain, production and sales functions. A properly implemented S&OP process routinely reviews customer demand and supply resources and “replans” quantitatively across an agreed rolling horizon. The replanning process focuses on changes from the previously agreed sales and operations plan; while it helps the management team understand how the company achieved its current level of performance, its primary focus is on future actions and anticipated results. Adoption of S&OP has increased as software to support the process has become more powerful and affordable and as a growing list of companies demonstrated its value in producing meaningfully improved business results. Even without adopting a full-scale S&OP management approach, companies can benefit from better coordination and collaboration between their supply and demand functions. Software plays an important role here, too, in facilitating this coordination and collaboration.

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Topics: Planning, SaaS, Sales, Forecast, Mobile Technology, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Human Capital, Supply Chain Planning, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Sales Planning, Supply Chain, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Demand Chain, Integrated Business Planning, SCM Demand Planning, S&OP

Evolving to the Next Generation of ERP Systems

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 29, 2015 1:19:13 PM

The enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is a pillar of nearly every company’s record-keeping and management of business processes. It is essential to the smooth functioning of the accounting and finance functions. In manufacturing and distribution, ERP also can help plan and manage inventory and logistics. Some companies use it to handle human resources functions such as tracking employees, payroll and related costs. Yet despite their ubiquity, ERP systems have evolved little since their introduction a quarter of a century ago. The technologies shaping their design, functions and features had been largely unchanged. As a measure of this stability, our Office of Finance benchmark research found that in 2014 companies on average were keeping their ERP systems one year longer than they had in 2005.

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Topics: Big Data, Microsoft, SAP, Social Media, ERP, FP&A, Mobile Technology, NetSuite, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, close, closing, Controller, dashboard, Human Capital, Reconciliation, report, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, IBM, Oracle, Uncategorized, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), BI, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Intacct, scorecard

Oracle Must Pivot to Business Applications

Posted by Ventana Research on Nov 5, 2015 10:26:32 PM

Whatever Oracle’s cloud strategy had been the past, this year’s OpenWorld conference and trade show made it clear that the company is now all in. In his keynote address, co-CEO Mark Hurd presented predictions for the world of information technology in 2025, when the cloud will be central to companies’ IT environments. While his forecast that two (unnamed) companies will account for 80 percent of the cloud software market 10 years from now is highly improbable, it’s likely that there will be relentless consolidation, marginalization and extinction within the IT industry sector driven by cloud disruptions and the maturing of the software business. In practice, though, we expect the transition to the cloud to be slow and uneven.

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Topics: Microsoft, SAP, ERP, FP&A, Mobile Technology, NetSuite, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, close, closing, Controller, dashboard, Human Capital, reconciliations, report, Tax, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, IBM, Oracle, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Data, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Amazon, BI, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Intacct, Predictive Analytics, scorecard, Spreadsheets, treasury

Continuous Accounting Enables a Strategic Finance Department

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 29, 2015 9:51:54 PM

Many senior finance executives say they want their department to play a more strategic role in the management and operations of their company. They want Finance to shift its focus from processing transactions to higher-value functions in order to make more substantial contributions to the success of the organization. I use the term “continuous accounting” to represent an approach to managing the accounting cycle that can facilitate the shift by improving the performance of the accounting function. Continuous accounting embraces three main principles:

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Topics: ERP, FP&A, Reporting, close, closing, Controller, dashboard, reconciliations, report, Tax, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud, Collaboration, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), BI, Financial Performance Management, FPM, scorecard, Spreadsheets, treasury

SaaS Buyers and Customers Beware: Data Issues are Cloudy

Posted by Ventana Research on Apr 27, 2015 9:12:12 PM

There’s a long history of companies not paying close enough attention to the contractual elements of acquiring software. Today, this extends into the world of cloud computing. Many companies are choosing to acquire software services through cloud-based providers and increasingly rely on access to cloud-based data, as is shown by our forthcoming benchmark research, in which a large majority of participating companies said that having access to data in the cloud is important or very important. As they say, I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on television, so what follows is intended to be nothing more than a conversation starter with legal counsel. But I do advise companies on how to use software to improve their business performance and provide guidance on what software they need to achieve their objectives. From that perspective, let me offer this blanket recommendation: Your company should examine the terms and conditions of its contracts carefully to be certain that it has the ability to control, access and retain its data in single or multitenant cloud-based systems. It should be prepared to add terms and conditions to any software-as-a-service (SaaS) contract to preserve ownership of and access to the data as well as other proprietary elements of that business relationship.

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Topics: SaaS, Operational Performance Management (OPM), contract, e-discovery, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

Office of Finance Research Demonstrates Importance of Using Effective Financial Software

Posted by Ventana Research on Feb 2, 2015 8:27:23 AM

Our recently published Office of Finance benchmark research assesses a broad set of functions and capabilities of finance organizations. We asked research participants to identify the most important issues for a finance department to address in a dozen functional areas: accounting, budgeting, cost accounting, customer profitability management, external financial reporting, financial analysis, financial governance and internal audit, management accounting, product profitability management, strategic and long-range planning, tax management and treasury and cash management. Among the key findings is this: Not using the most capable software is an underlying cause, often unrecognized, of process, analytics and data issues.

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Topics: Mobile, Planning, Predictive Analytics, ERP, FP&A, Reporting, Self-service, Budgeting, close, closing, computing, Controller, dashboard, planning and budgeting, report, Tax, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Cloud, Collaboration, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), BI, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Microsoft Excel, scorecard, Spreadsheets, treasury

Make Automating the Office of Finance and Accounting a Priority

Posted by Ventana Research on Jan 27, 2015 7:50:29 AM

Our recent Office of Finance benchmark research demonstrates the importance of using automation to execute finance department functions. Information technology systems do at least two things very well that make better use of people’s time, and both of them can substantially improve organizational performance. First, they eliminate the need for people to do repetitive tasks, which frees them to spend time on more valuable work that requires judgment and skill. IT systems also can be programmed to focus only on relevant information while eliminating the need to get immersed in detail. The latter capability supports a “management by exception” approach, which enables executives and managers to better allocate how and where they spend their time.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, ERP, FP&A, Reporting, Self-service, Budgeting, close, closing, computing, Controller, dashboard, planning and budgeting, reconciliations, report, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Cloud, Collaboration, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Data, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), BI, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Microsoft Excel, scorecard, Spreadsheets, treasury

Technology Can Enhance Performance in Finance Departments

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 29, 2014 9:40:42 AM

Finance transformation” refers to a longstanding objective: shifting the focus of CFOs and finance departments from transaction processing to more strategic, higher-value functions. Our upcoming Office of Finance benchmark research confirms that most of organizations want their finance department to take a more strategic role in management of the company: nine in 10 participants said that it’s important or very important. (We are using “finance” in its broadest sense, including, for example, accounting, corporate finance, financial planning and analysis, treasury and tax functions.) Finance departments have the ability and at least an implicit mandate to improve business performance and enable a corporation to execute strategy more effectively. Yet the research shows that becoming strategic is a work in progress. Most departments handle the basics well, but half fall short in areas that can contribute significantly to the performance of their company. More than three-fourths of participants said they perform accounting, external financial reporting, financial analysis, budgeting and management accounting well or very well. But only half said that about their ability to do product and customer profitability management, strategic and long-range planning and business development.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Performance Management, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, ERP, FP&A, Reporting, Management, close, closing, computing, Controller, planning and budgeting, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Tagetik, FPM, treasury

Data-Driven Business Processes Essential for Optimization

Posted by Ventana Research on Oct 16, 2014 10:30:56 AM

When applying information technology to drive better business performance, companies and the systems integrators that assist them often underestimate the importance of organizing data management around processes. For example, companies that do not execute their quote-to-cash cycle as an end-to-end process often experience a related set of issues in their sales, marketing, operations, accounting and finance functions that stem from entering the same data into multiple systems. The inability to automate passing of data from one functional group to the next forces people to spend time re-entering data and leads to fragmented and disconnected data stores. The absence of a single authoritative data source also creates conflicts about whose numbers are “right.” Even when the actual figures recorded are identical, discrepancies can crop up because of issues in synchronization and data definition. Lacking an authoritative source, organizations may need to check for and resolve errors and inconsistencies between systems to ensure, for example, that what customers purchased was what they received and were billed for. The negative impact of this lack of automation is multiplied when transactions are complex or involve contracts for recurring services.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, ERP, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Operations, Management, close, closing, computing, end-to-end, quote-to-cash, requisition-to-pay, Analytics, Cloud, Data Management, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CRM, Data, finance, Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), FPM