Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

IBM Advances Business Experience in Using Advanced Analytics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 3, 2014 9:13:32 PM

The developed world has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to information technology. Individuals walk around with far more computing power and data storage in their pockets than was required to send men to the moon. People routinely hold on their laps what would have been considered a supercomputer a generation ago. There is a wealth of information available on the Web. And the costs of these information assets are a tiny fraction of what they were decades ago. Consumer products have been at the forefront in utilizing information technology capabilities. The list of innovations is staggering. The “smart” phone is positively brilliant. Games are now a far bigger business than motion pictures.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Predictive Analytics, Social Media, Customer Experience, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Performance, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, IBM, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Social, Financial Performance Management, SPSS

SAP Sets Course for Simple ERP

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 9, 2014 10:35:37 AM

The keynote theme at this year’s Sapphire conference in Orlando was Simple. Top executives from SAP, a software company associated with complexity, stated and restated that its future direction is to simplify all aspects of its products and the ways customers interact with them and the company itself. SAP’s longstanding and commendable aspiration to thoroughness in its software will be giving way to an emphasis on elegance in its engineering. This objective is more than admirable – SAP’s future competitiveness depends on it. Changing the fundamental architecture of SAP’s offerings – already well under way with HANA – is absolutely necessary. The design underpinnings in SAP’s ERP applications, for example, have been shaped by technology limitations that have disappeared, as Dr. Hasso Plattner, one of the company’s founders, pointed out in his keynote. However, the relevant issue facing SAP and the software market is how far the company can progress toward this goal  and how fast.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Sales, Salesforce.com, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, Kenandy, PSA, Sage Software, Unit4, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workday, HANA, Plex, Professional Services Automation

Epicor Faces a Challenging Future

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jun 2, 2014 9:46:32 AM

Epicor used its recent user group conference to explain its strategic direction and product roadmap. The company is the result of multiple mergers of business software corporations over the past 15 years; its target customers are midsize companies and midsize divisions of larger organizations. Its most significant products are Epicor (ERP software aimed mainly at manufacturing and distribution companies) and Activant Solutions (software for small and midsize retailers, including a point-of-sale system). The company also has software that manages CRM, HR and human capital and supply chains,  and provides financial performance management (FPM) and governance, risk and compliance (GRC) capabilities. These components of the software suites are adequate for the needs of many of the company’s target customers and are not intended as stand-alone applications.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Sales, Customer Experience, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), communications, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, Epicor, Sage Software, UI, Unit4, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workday, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Social, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Plex

Infor at the End of the Beginning

Posted by Robert Kugel on May 3, 2014 10:54:41 PM

From my perspective, Infor’s strategy to accelerate revenue growth is to offer companies more innovation and a lower and more predictable cost of ownership than its rivals in the business software market; its products include the major categories of ERP, human resources and financial performance management. It aims to innovate by focusing on improving the user experience and to lower costs by redesigning its software architecture. The innovation stems from a fresh approach to designing interactions between users and business software: simplifying it and providing a more modern user experience that people have grown accustomed to in their personal software. The better cost-effectiveness rests on designing its software to reduce the expense of integrating and customizing it. One element of this is creating richer functionality for narrowly segmented micro-verticals. Another is offering cloud-based versions built on less expensive open source infrastructure and third-party commodity services. The software markets that Infor serves are mature and offer limited growth. So to be successful the company must increase both its market share and its share of a company’s IT spend (capturing internal IT spending and outlays to third-party consultants and systems integrators). To prove that the company’s strategy is working will require sustained organic growth (excluding new acquisitions) in revenues.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Sales, Customer Experience, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, Sage Software, UI, Unit4, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Information Management (IM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workday, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, FPM, Plex

Cloud Computing is More Than Multitenancy

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 2, 2014 9:22:01 AM

There’s a growing realization that the multitenant approach to the cloud isn’t the only option that companies should weigh in deciding between deploying software on-premises and in the cloud. That some people describe the multitenancy approach as “the real cloud” reflects the contentious nature of some technical debates, especially those that occur early in the evolution of a new technology. Multitenancy does have advantages that confer cost savings, and these have been important in the first stages of cloud adoption. However, we predict that single-tenant structures will rapidly gain in importance as corporations mature in their use of cloud computing, especially with respect to how they manage their ERP systems, as I have written. Corporations are increasingly adopting Web-based applications and moving their computing environments to a hybrid model that combines a combination of on-premises and cloud deployment options (private, community and public; single- and multitenant; or managed cloud). The right choice depends on the needs of the company and the ability of vendors to provide services that match their requirements.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Sales, Salesforce.com, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Office of Finance, Planview, Concur, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, PSA, Sage Software, Unit4, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Tagetik, Workday, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Plex

The Challenge of Making ERP Systems More Configurable

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 31, 2014 9:43:58 AM

In the wake of the past year’s usual crop of failed ERP implementations, I’ve read a couple of blogs that bemoan the fact that ERP systems are not nearly as user-friendly or intuitive as the mobile apps that everyone loves. I’ve complained about this aspect of ERP, and our research confirms that ERP systems are viewed as cumbersome: Just one in five companies (21%) said it is easy to make changes to ERP systems while one-third (33%) said making changes is difficult or very difficult. Yet as with many such technology topics, addressing the difficulty in working with ERP systems is not as straightforward as one might hope. ERP software vendors must make it easier, less expensive and less risky for customers to adapt the systems they buy to their changing business needs. To do this, vendors must design products to be more configurable. The goal should be that organizations can make changes and add new capabilities to their ERP system in far less time than it takes today and without having to engage outside consultants.

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Topics: Mobile, SAP, ERP, Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Workday, Social, business process, FPM, Intacct

Oracle Hyperion Products Challenged by New Generation of Expectations

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 16, 2013 7:23:32 AM

Oracle continues to enrich the capabilities of its Hyperion suite of applications that support the finance function, but I wonder if that will be enough to sustain its market share and new generation of expectations. At the recent Oracle OpenWorld these new features were on display, and spokespeople described how the company will be transitioning its software to cloud deployment. Our 2013 Financial Performance Management Value (FPM) Index rates Oracle Hyperion a Warm vendor in my analysis, ranking eighth out of nine vendors. Our Value Index is informed by more than a decade of analysis of technology suppliers and their products and how well they satisfy specific business and IT needs. We perform a detailed evaluation of product functionality and suitability-to-task as well as the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance. Our assessment reflects two disparate sets of factors. On one hand, the Hyperion FPM suite offers a broad set of software that automates, streamlines and supports a range of finance department functions. It includes sophisticated analytical applications. Used to full effect, Hyperion can eliminate many manual steps and speed execution of routine work. It also can enhance accuracy, ensure tasks are completed on a timely basis, foster coordination between Finance and the rest of the organization and generate insights into corporate performance. For this, the software gets high marks.

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Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Planning, Social Media, ERP, Human Capital Management, Modeling, Office of Finance, Reporting, Budgeting, close, closing, Consolidation, Controller, driver-based, Finance Financial Applications Financial Close, Hyperion, IFRS, Tax, XBRL, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, CIO, Cloud Computing, In-memory, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, compliance, Data, Financial Performance Management (FPM), benchmark, Financial Performance Management, financial reporting, FPM, GAAP, Integrated Business Planning, Price Optimization, Profitability, SEC Software

Find Out Which Is the Hottest Financial Performance Management Software

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 9, 2013 8:56:33 AM

We recently issued our 2013 Value Index on Financial Performance Management. Ventana Research defines financial performance management (FPM) as the process of addressing the often overlapping people, process, information and technology issues that affect how well finance organizations operate and support the activities of the rest of their organization. FPM deals with the full cycle of finance department activities, which includes planning and budgeting, analysis, assessment and review, closing and consolidation, and internal and external financial reporting, as well as the underlying IT systems that support them. Our Value Index is informed by more than a decade of analysis of how well technology suppliers and their products satisfy specific business and IT needs. We perform a detailed evaluation of product functionality and suitability to task in five categories as well as of the effectiveness of vendor support for the buying process and customer assurance. Our resulting index gauges the value offered by each individual vendor and its products in supporting FPM, which is necessary for running an organization efficiently and effectively.

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Topics: Mobile, Planning, Predictive Analytics, Office of Finance, Budgeting, closing, Consolidation, contingency planning, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Value Index, Financial Performance Management

Next-Generation ERP Must Take a Giant Leap

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 25, 2013 12:09:01 AM

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems emerged in the 1990s. Even though they don’t do much in the way of planning, the systems provide companies a means of centralizing and consolidating transaction data collection (such as purchase orders, inventory movements and depreciation), automating the management of processes, and handling the bookkeeping and financial record keeping for these transactions and related processes. ERP systems are an indispensable piece of IT infrastructure in today’s enterprises. Alas, they also are inherently flawed. But perhaps not for much longer.

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Topics: Mobile, SAP, Social Media, ERP, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Infor, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workday, Social, FPM, Intacct

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