Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

Software Aims To Prevent Foreign Corrupt Practices

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 8, 2013 10:51:18 PM

In some parts of the world, bribing government officials is still considered a normal cost of doing business. Elsewhere there has been a growing trend over the past 40 years to make it illegal for a corporation to pay bribes. In the United States, Congress passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in 1977 in the wake of a succession of revelations of companies paying off government officials to secure arms deals or favorable tax treatment. More recently other governments have implemented anticorruption statutes. The U.K., for instance, enacted the strict Bribery Act in 2010 to replace increasingly ineffective statutes dating back to 1879. The purpose of these actions is to enable ethical and law-abiding companies to compete on a level playing field with those that are neither. A cynic might wonder about the real, functional difference between, say, Wal-Mart’s recent payments to officials in Mexico to accelerate approval of building permits and the practice in New York City of having to engage expediters to ensure timely sign-offs on construction approval documents. No matter – the latter is legal (it’s a domestic issue, after all) while the former is not.

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Topics: SAP, ERP, Governance, GRC, Operational Performance Management (OPM), bribery, Business Analytics, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), IBM, Operational Intelligence, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, compliance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FPM, Oversight Systems

IBM to Acquire Star Analytics for Financial Data Integration

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 7, 2013 7:00:08 AM

IBM this week announced its pending acquisition of the Star Analytics product portfolio. Star Analytics is a privately held company that offers products designed to provide easy access to and integration with Oracle Hyperion data sources. While Star Analytics has a good product and solid references, it has lacked critical mass to support more effective sales and marketing efforts. Star Analytics’ strategic value to IBM lies in its ability to unlock data held in Oracle Essbase multidimensional databases, which is the repository for applications such as Hyperion Enterprise, Financial Management and Planning. It supports IBM’s aim to offer comprehensive business analytics capabilities, which means it must be able to facilitate access to all data sources. Longer term, it enables IBM to compete with Oracle for finance department customers with IBM’s own financial performance management applications. Star Analytics gives IBM a means of fostering relationships with existing users of Hyperion applications and a more graceful migration path to using IBM’s financial, analytics and business intelligence software.

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Topics: Reporting, closing, Essbase, Hyperion, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Data Integration, IBM, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Financial Performance Management, Star Analytics, TM1

IBM Encourages Adoption of Predictive Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 28, 2012 12:14:01 PM

Our benchmark research on business analytics finds that just 13 percent of companies overall and 11 percent of finance departments use predictive analytics. I think advanced analytics – especially predictive analytics – should play a larger role in managing organizations. Making it easier to create and consume advanced analytics would help organizations broaden their integration in business planning and execution. This was one of the points that SPSS, an IBM subsidiary that provides analytics, addressed at IBM’s recent analyst summit.

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Topics: Big Data, Performance Management, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Marketing, Modeling, Sales Forecasting, Analytics, IBM, Uncategorized, SPSS

Cognos Express Gives Midsize Companies Outsize Capabilities

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 8, 2012 12:27:40 PM

A main reason why desktop spreadsheets are pervasive in midsize companies (which we define as those with 100 to 1,000 employees) is that these organizations do not have the financial and manpower resources to implement and maintain traditional enterprise business intelligence and performance management systems. To address this gap in the market, several years ago IBM Cognos launched Express, a business intelligence and planning software package designed specifically for midsize companies as well as independent workgroups within larger corporations. It’s a package designed for easy (and relatively inexpensive) implementation and maintenance, often by channel partners.

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Topics: ERP, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Dashboards, IBM, Uncategorized, CFO, finance, Financial Performance Management

IBM Displays Software for GRC at Vision 2012

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 22, 2012 12:22:27 PM

I recently attended Vision 2012, IBM’s conference for users of its financial governance, risk management and performance optimization software. I reviewed the finance portion of the program in a previous blog. I’ve been commenting on governance, risk and compliance (GRC) for several years, often with the caveat that GRC is a catch-all term invented by industry analysts initially to cover a broad set of individual software applications. Each of these was designed to address specific requirements across a spectrum of users in operations, IT and Finance within a company, often to meet the needs for a specific industry such as financial services or pharmaceuticals. Vision 2012 covered a lot of ground under the GRC heading, confirming the breadth of both this software category and IBM’s offerings in it. I want to focus on two areas: automation of IT governance activities and effective management of GRC-related data.

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Topics: Governance, GRC, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), OpenPages, Analytics, Business Collaboration, IBM, Business Performance Management (BPM), compliance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), controls, IT controls

IBM Shows Off Vision for Finance

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 21, 2012 11:00:31 AM

I recently attended Vision 2012, IBM’s conference for users of its financial governance, risk management and performance optimization software. From my perspective, two points are particularly worth noting with respect to the finance portion of the program. First, IBM has assembled a financial performance management suite capable of supporting core finance processes as well as more innovative ones. It continues to build out the scope of this suite’s capabilities to enhance ease of use, deepen the capabilities of existing areas and broaden to coverage to complementary or immediately adjacent software categories such as its pending acquisition of sales performance management vendor Varicent Software (covered by my colleague Mark Smith). More specifically, automating management of the extended financial close – that is, all activities from closing the books through filing financial reports with regulatory bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the U.S. or the FSC in the U.K. – is growing increasingly important as regulatory requirements for external financial reporting expand. Companies that have adopted software to manage the extended close are demonstrating the value of using it.

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Topics: Performance Management, close, closing, IFRS, Analytics, IBM, Uncategorized, GAAP

Infor Presents Itself as a Large Software Startup

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 30, 2012 11:28:33 AM

Infor described this year’s Inforum user group meeting as a coming-out party for a large startup company. Such a debut was necessary because Infor had been operating in something of a stealth mode for the past three years: a limited marketing presence, no unified message and a weak, sometimes inconsistent brand identity. It also needed to formally introduce Infor to customers of Lawson, the ERP supplier it acquired last year. The “startup” designation is meant to signal that Infor has been able to render a decade-long consolidation of dozens of smaller companies into one cohesive entity.

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Topics: Performance Management, Salesforce.com, SAP, Social Media, Sustainability, ERP, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Epiphany, expense management, Lawson, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), IBM, Operational Intelligence, Oracle, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management

IBM Cognos 10 Does Profitability Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 18, 2011 7:56:07 AM

I believe that one of the more important analytical applications that a company can implement is profitability management. IBM Cognos offers Profitability Modeling and Optimization as part of its Cognos 10 offering that my colleague has assessed. As I’ve noted, most people in a corporation are focused on profitability, but not necessarily in a way that optimizes results across the organization in a day-to-day, consistent fashion. Those responsible for each component piece that contributes to profitability (such as departments, product lines or divisions) have objectives, but in pursuing these individual objectives they may make decisions that degrade the overall profitability of the corporation. Moreover, companies rarely seek to maximize short-term profits. They routinely make decisions that diminish their bottom line, such as promotional pricing, warranties or services included at no additional cost, with the aim of achieving strategic objectives. The question they must answer in making these decisions is whether these moves are justified. Similarly, they also must ask what they are including in their offer that they might be able to charge more for, such as shipping or warranties.

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Topics: Performance Management, Forecast, Modeling, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), enterprise profitability management, Business Analytics, IBM, Business Performance Management (BPM), Cognos, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), financial services, Profitability

Crystal Ball Is Cloudy for ERP Market

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 11, 2011 5:49:28 AM

As Workday continues to expand and the likelihood of its IPO becomes a more frequent topic of discussion, so does the movement of ERP systems to the cloud. Thus far, only a minority of companies have chosen to put their ERP and accounting systems in the cloud, but the numbers are growing and there’s evidence of success. NetSuite, for example, reported a 26 percent increase in its revenues to $145 million in the nine months up to Sept. 30, 2011. To be sure, this is not close to Salesforce.com’s size and growth rate over the past decade, but it does indicate a growing acceptance of the cloud for this software category, which I have commented on. Moreover, I expect that as more companies adopt cloud-based systems successfully, we’ll see accelerating adoption by more cautious buyers in the classic diffusion of innovation pattern described by Everett Rogers (and later reworked by Geoffrey Moore).

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Topics: Microsoft, Sales, ERP, NetSuite, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Dynamics, Epicor, Lawson, QAD, Cloud Computing, IBM, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), financial software, Intacct, PeopleSoft, Software

Planning for Fixed-Asset Investment Requires the Right Tool Not Just a Spreadsheet

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 20, 2011 9:12:00 AM

In today’s economy, all companies are contending with a dynamic business environment characterized by volatile commodity prices and exchange rates, a shaky global financial system and slow growth in many countries. Many of them rely heavily on desktop spreadsheets to support the data collection and analysis related to their capital-asset planning. However, spreadsheets have inherent limitations that make them the wrong choice.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, SAP, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Planview, Budgeting, contingency, IBM, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), agile, capital spending