Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

The Cloud Can Help You Get Smarter If You Let It

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 8, 2013 8:08:44 AM

One of the potential benefits of cloud computing to access business applications and data is its potential to improve the situational awareness of executives and managers. By this I mean their understanding of what’s going on outside their company in addition to what’s happening within it. Today people have access to a trove of information about their own company, which is the result of decades of investment in an expanding range of enterprise transaction systems (ERP, CRM and supply chain management, for example) and convenient data stores that make accessing data easier than ever. But although people have access to internal information, most have big gaps in their knowledge about what’s going on in the outside world. Take, for example, market trends, information about a competitor’s, supplier’s or customer’s financials or industry-specific demand forecasts. Our benchmark research shows that while two-thirds of companies are satisfied with their ability to integrate information from standard internal sources, only 39 percent feel that way about reference or competitive data from external sources and 36 percent about text data from social media.

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Topics: Operational Performance Management (OPM), Cloud Computing, Data Integration, Data Management, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Data, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), FPM

Informatica and Exterro Partner for More Effective E-discovery

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 31, 2013 8:16:31 PM

Informatica and Exterro have announced a partnership in the market for discovery of electronic data and documents (known as e-discovery). Exterro has made its reputation in e-discovery workflow and legal holds management while Informatica is a leader in data integration that our Value Index finds as the top and Hot rated provider. The partnership is designed to provide users of Exterro’s Fusion E-Discovery software with a single point of control for organizing and managing legal and preservation holds (that is, preventing electronic data from alteration or deletion) of unstructured and structured data that are held in Informatica’s Data Archive. Informatica specializes in the efficient management of information assets, which our benchmark research shows is not easy for most organizations to do because they have data spread across multiple applications and systems: Two-thirds of organizations said that this makes it difficult to manage information. By consolidating in a single repository the storage of information that is likely to be the subject of discovery, companies can simplify and cut the cost of the search process as well as reduce risk. Orchestrating legal and preservation holds can be complex since multiple people or groups within a company may be legally involved with the same data over an extended period of time. Moreover, it’s important to ensure that once the holds are no longer needed, all data that can be eliminated is eliminated.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), eDiscovery, Exterro, Data Governance, Data Management, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Informatica, Business Performance Management (BPM), compliance, Data, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information, Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), Risk, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

Spreadsheets Consume More Time Than It Seems

Posted by Robert Kugel on Aug 7, 2013 10:47:30 AM

The spreadsheet is one of the five most important advances in business management over the last 50 years. It has changed all aspects of running an organization. It was the original “killer app” that made people go out and buy personal computers. So you see I’m enthusiastic about spreadsheets, but I realize they have limits that must be respected to work efficiently. One of the more important findings from our benchmark research Spreadsheets for Today’s Enterprise was about the time spent in maintaining spreadsheets. We asked participants how much time they spend per month in updating, revising, consolidating, modifying and correcting the spreadsheet used in the most important process associated with their job. The answers varied depending on the intensity with which people work with spreadsheets. On average, the heaviest users – those whose work requires them to spend all or almost all of their time using them – spend 18.1 hours per month on maintenance – the equivalent of more than two days per month! Even those who spend more than half their time in this fashion use up nearly two days (15.7 hours). For a tool designed to enhance personal productivity, these results should be sobering to executives and managers.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, enterprise spreadsheet, Analytics, Business Analytics, Visualization, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), Risk, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), benchmark, Financial Performance Management

Big Data Will Make Elephants Dance

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 21, 2013 12:06:07 PM

IBM’s Big Data and Analytics Analyst Insights conference started me thinking about the longer-term potential impact of big data and related technologies on business management. I covered some of the near-term uses of big data and analytics in an earlier perspective. There are numerous uses of big data that can provide incremental improvements to existing processes and practices. Some of these will have a significant impact on changing business models, enabling new classes of products and services and improving performance. As well, the technology will have more profound, longer lasting effects. The ability to analyze large quantities of business-related data rapidly has the potential to set in motion fundamental changes in how executives and managers run their business. Properly deployed, it will enable a more forward-looking and agile management style even in very large enterprises. It will allow more flexible forms of business organization. None of these changes will be universal, and the old school will be with us for some time. Technology, however, will give executives and their boards of directors a powerful tool for strategic differentiation to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

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Topics: Big Data, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Management, Budgeting, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, IBM, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), decision, FPM, Watson

Infor Demonstrates Steady Stream of Advances to Customers

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 26, 2013 10:58:55 AM

At this year’s Inforum user group conference, Infor representatives showed the progress the organization has made since last year in transforming itself from a ragbag of mostly small, often obsolete software companies to a competitive vendor of a modern enterprise management software suite. Infor was created by private equity investors employing a “rollup” strategy, aimed at combining smaller companies within an industry to form a single larger company that could achieve economies of scale and greater market presence. Others have tried this in the software industry in the past and encountered difficulty in making it work for two primary reasons. One is the technical challenge of achieving economies of scale in enterprise applications by turning a set of similar but separately developed software pieces into a single offering. Computer Associates achieved economies of scale through acquisition in the 1990s in the IT infrastructure software segment. But it did this largely by forcing customers of the various acquired companies to migrate to its single offering in the specific category. This is not a practical approach for business and finance enterprise applications because customers are willing to go off maintenance and eventually look for another vendor. The second difficulty is that newer or larger competitors can focus on innovation and overtake the rollup company while its attention and resources are focused on stitching the pieces together.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, Social Media, GRC, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Budgeting, closing, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Risk, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), FPM, SEC

International Integrated Reporting Framework Takes Shape

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 23, 2013 10:45:13 AM

The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) recently published a draft framework outlining how it believes businesses ought to communicate with their stakeholders. In this context the purpose of an “integrated report” is to promote corporate transparency by clearly and concisely presenting how an organization’s strategy, governance, and financial and operational performance will create value for shareholders and other stakeholders in both the short and the long term. Such a report aims to address broader needs than only those of investors’ and therefore must be more than a simple extension of a company’s external financial reports, which are aimed at a specialist audience including analysts, regulators and lawyers.

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Topics: Sustainability, Office of Finance, closing, XBRL, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), financial reporting, FPM, SASB, SEC

Investigate User-Friendly Spreadsheet Alternatives

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 18, 2013 10:11:35 AM

I’ve been using spreadsheets for more than 30 years. I consider this technology tool among the five most important advances in business management of the 20th century. Spreadsheets have revolutionized many aspects of running an organization. Yet as enthusiastic as I am about them, I know the limits of desktop spreadsheets and the price we pay if we fail to respect those limits. The essential problem arises when people use desktop spreadsheets for purposes beyond what they were originally designed to do. Desktop spreadsheets were designed to be a personal productivity tool, and they are good for prototyping models and creating analytics used in processes, performing one-off analyses using simple models and storing small amounts of data. They were not designed built to be used to manage or support repetitive, collaborative enterprise-wide processes. As a rule of thumb, when a spreadsheet is used by more than six people six or more times, it’s time to look for an alternative. Otherwise, errors and inconsistencies easily creep in and undermine the accuracy and value of important data.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, enterprise spreadsheet, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Visualization, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), Risk, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), benchmark, Financial Performance Management

Use – Don’t Abuse – Spreadsheets

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 21, 2013 9:45:42 AM

I’ve been using electronic spreadsheets for more than 30 years. I consider this technology among the 20th century’s top five most important advances in business management. Spreadsheets have revolutionized every aspect of running any organization. A spreadsheet (specifically, VisiCalc) was the original “killer app” that made business people feel the necessity to buy a personal computer.

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Topics: Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, enterprise spreadsheet, Analytics, Business Analytics, Visualization, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Applications (IA), Information Management (IM), Risk, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), benchmark, Financial Performance Management

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

Vertex Enterprise Advances Tax Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 1, 2013 6:35:07 AM

Taxes – both indirect (sales or value added taxes, for example) and direct (income taxes) – are one the largest expense items on the corporate income statement. In recent years it has become common for large and even midsize companies to automate their indirect tax management process, but direct tax management has remained a bastion of manual processes built on a heap of desktop spreadsheets. In previous blog posts I discussed this issue and the role of the tax data warehouse as a necessary foundation for automating the direct tax process. Addressing an important need, Vertex is currently providing a limited release of its Enterprise offering, a single-platform approach to managing all types of taxes (direct and indirect) across the entire tax life cycle (from analysis through provisioning to audit defense) using a single data source.

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Topics: ERP, GRC, Office of Finance, audit, finance transformation, Tax, Analytics, Business Analytics, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), Vertex, FPM