Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

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

Apps Hard To Find at Oracle Open World

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 7, 2011 8:23:04 AM

The assessment of a major focus of Oracle Open World by my colleague David Menninger sums up what I also see as the key strategic element of the event: the new appliance including that called Exalytics. My focus as an industry analyst is on the needs of the line-of-business user, not IT. And that’s the source of my ongoing frustration with this event: It’s not an application user’s conference, especially compared to the PeopleSoft and Hyperion annual gatherings of the past before Oracle acquired and absorbed them. Open World seems almost grudging in addressing their needs, and so it’s not surprising that there don’t appear to be many business users here. For example, other than the Finance IT folks, I’m not sure who from the finance organization was in attendance. In their case, most companies with fiscal years ending in December, March, June or September – and these constitute the vast majority of corporations – are busy with their quarterly financial close this week. Applications sessions focused on the basics and, while I might have missed the one or two line-of-business  show-stopper success stories, the ones I saw were ho-hum. Another indication that applications are not the focus of the event is the location of the Hyperion breakout sessions, which were a 15-minute walk from the Moscone Center this year.

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Topics: Big Data, Hyperion, Open World, Analytics, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), financials, Fusion Applications

Analytics Can Make Finance More Relevant

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 7, 2011 11:22:17 AM

Ventana Research recently completed groundbreaking benchmark research on how finance organizations use analytics these days. Of course, analytics have been a mainstay of finance organizations since people started using accounting ratios to assess the health and performance of a business. Yet perhaps because traditional analytics are so deeply entrenched, finance departments execute the basics well but don’t take the next step to fully utilize the power of information technology to use analytics more effectively. And they should: Our research finds that a majority of executives and managers outside the finance organization want the department to play a more strategic role in their company’s management.  

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Topics: Predictive Analytics, SAP, SAS, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Analytics, Business Intelligence, IBM, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), Cognos, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Financial Performance Management

Acquisition of Lawson Complements Infor’s Portfolio

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 28, 2011 8:38:20 AM

Golden Gate Capital and Infor (which is owned largely by Golden Gate Capital) will acquire Lawson Software for approximately $2 billion  in a transaction that is expected to be completed sometime in this year’s third quarter. Lawson is the latest in a string of enterprise software acquisitions made or financed by Golden Gate that began almost a decade ago. Today, Infor is made up of legacy companies such as Baan, Comshare, ePiphany, Dun & Bradstreet Software, SSA, Sun Systems and Symix, to name just a handful. Compared to Oracle’s acquisition approach, I would describe Golden Gate’s as more of a “rollup” of applications software vendors because it incorporates a larger number of smaller companies. While Oracle has focused primarily on serving the largest corporations, Infor’s customers tend to be midsize to large companies or divisions of very large corporations. Nonetheless, with this acquisition Infor will have a larger base of revenue and installations to work from in an industry where size and economies of scale drive profitability and competitiveness.

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Topics: ERP, Human Capital Management, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Analytics, Business Technology, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Talent Management, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Corporate Finance, Financial Performance Management

Prospects for Ending Forklift Migrations of ERP

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 26, 2011 4:01:29 PM

Back in the old days (20 years ago or so) companies that wanted to expand or update their telephone systems had to do what was called a “forklift migration.” In other words, they had to remove big, heavy and very expensive boxes of electronics from an equipment room and replace them with newer big, heavy and very expensive boxes. The process of adding, deleting or changing people, offices and phone numbers was equally burdensome and costly. This all seems quaint now because digital telephony and voice over IP (VOIP) have completely changed the technology underpinnings of voice communications. I bring this up because we may be on the verge of substantially reducing the “forklift migration” equivalent of replacing or updating on-premises ERP systems and other enterprise software. This possibility is important for software vendors as well as users. Retaining a maintenance base and revenue stream has become a key strategic objective for any enterprise software provider. In North America in particular, companies that have outgrown their enterprise system or want to replace it almost never exhibit total brand loyalty. Instead they begin the replacement process by looking at alternatives, winnow it down to a short list and then select the best of the lot. If migration is as much work as implementing a new system, organizations are likely to view replacement as an equally attractive option, increasing the probability that the incumbent vendor will lose a customer. But if there’s little pain in changing an ERP system to acquire new functional capabilities or meet other objectives, incumbent vendors stand to benefit.

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Topics: SAP, ERP, Office of Finance, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor

Sneak Preview and Analysis: Oracle Fusion Applications for Financial Management

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 11:53:47 AM

Oracle unveiled its Fusion Financials applications at its latest OpenWorld confab as part of its broader Fusion Applications announcement. The software will be generally available shortly. Beyond it being the approach to bringing together the disparate ERP/Financial applications the company owns (E-Business Suite/Oracle Applications, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards), Oracle Fusion Financials rethinks the architecture on which the software is built consistent with the longer-term business software trend of having applications mould themselves around business processes rather than having to mould business processes around available software. This is not just a simpler integration of business intelligence and on-line transactions processing. It results in an easier, more consistent and faster way to execute the execution of finance department functions. It is a breakthrough in the making, but owing to the conservative nature of the buyers and the lack of any compelling reason for Oracle to encourage them to migrate, one that I expect will take most of this decade to pan out.

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Topics: Financial Close, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Financial Performance Management

Looking forward to Oracle OpenWorld

Posted by Robert Kugel on Nov 27, 2010 11:50:14 AM

Looking forward to Oracle OpenWorld, I was recalling that about 20 years ago, when I started covering the software industry as a Wall St. analyst, I paid a visit to the company. There were many fewer database-shaped glass buildings there in Redwood Shores then but the lack of corporate focus on business applications and users remains unchanged.

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Topics: Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Intelligence, Enterprise Software, Information Technology, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

Oracles Advances Enterprise Content Management Again

Posted by Ventana Research on Jun 9, 2010 4:28:13 PM

Oracle has just released its latest (11g) version of its enterprise content management (ECM) suite. Oracle entered the ECM business mainly through the acquisition of Stellent more than three years ago. Historically, document/content management has achieved greatest penetration in paperwork heavy or highly regulated businesses such as financial services, pharmaceuticals and government as well as in specific functions such as handling web content, especially in high-volume applications. However, I expect that it will get increased attention in more general enterprise uses, especially in the finance department, as vendors begin tapping into latent demand for better management of collaborative, repetitive processes that involve documents and documentation.

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Topics: Enterprise Content Management, Information Management, Oracle, Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM)