Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

Infor Advances Business Computing

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 29, 2014 6:16:03 AM

Infor recently held its annual Inforum user group meeting, along with a series of sessions with analysts. The $2 billion business software company has products in the major categories of ERP (including enterprise financial management), human capital management, customer relationship management and performance management among others.

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

Oracle Financials is in the Cloud

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 22, 2014 9:31:43 AM

Like most vendors of on-premises ERP and financial management software, in moving to the cloud Oracle has focused on developing for existing and potential customers the option of multitenant software as a service (SaaS). (I’m using the term “ERP” in its most expansive sense, to include such systems employed by all types of companies for accounting and financial management rather than only systems that are used by manufacturing and distribution companies.) Oracle’s ERP Cloud Service includes Fusion Financials as well as planning and budgeting, risk and controls management, procurement and sourcing, inventory and cost management, product master data management, and project portfolio management. Although to date our benchmark research has consistently found that a large majority of finance departments do not prefer to deploy software in the cloud, we also observe the balance shifting in this direction. SaaS vendors that address finance department requirements have demonstrated faster revenue growth than those that offer products only on-premises. Like other vendors Oracle must establish itself as a credible vendor of cloud ERP and financial management services to be well positioned as market demand shifts further in that direction. The company made sizable investments in acquiring ERP and financial management software in the 2000s (notably PeopleSoft – which included JD Edwards – and Hyperion), and the investments have paid off as many companies have opted to keep their existing systems (and continue to pay maintenance) rather than replace them. Our Office of Finance benchmark research finds that over the past decade the average age of ERP systems in use has increased to 6.4 years from 5.1 years. The longevity of these systems is partly the result of the slow pace of innovation in underlying technologies used for business computing. Even so, modest year-by-year changes are adding up to make replacement a more attractive option while negative attitudes toward the cloud are dissipating. To retain its installed base, it’s important for any established vendor to have solid customer references and the ability to make sales of cloud products as demand for ERP and financial management software in the cloud increases.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, Salesforce.com, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, Kenandy, PSA, reseller, Sage Software, Unit4, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Workday, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), HANA, Plex, Professional Services Automation

FinancialForce Brings More Mobile, Social and Planning Technology to Market

Posted by Ventana Research on Sep 17, 2014 9:26:25 AM

FinancialForce’s 2014 summer release incorporates improvements in mobile and collaboration features and provides enhancements to the planning dimension of its professional services automation (PSA) suite. In the last couple of releases the company emphasized expansion in the functional capabilities of its ERP suite, as I noted, focusing on human capital management and professional services automation as well as some supply chain automation capabilities.

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Topics: SaaS, Salesforce.com, Social Media, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Consulting, distribution, PSA, Salesforce1, supply chain automation, Unit4, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Professional Services Automation, SCM

NetSuite Rides Wave of Cloud ERP Adoption

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jul 29, 2014 11:52:54 PM

Like other vendors of cloud-based ERP software, NetSuite offers the key benefits of software as a service (SaaS): a smaller upfront investment, faster time to value and potentially lower operating costs. Beyond that NetSuite’s essential point of competitive differentiation from is broad functionality beyond financial management, including capabilities for customer relationship management (CRM), professional services automation (PSA) and human capital management (HCM). These components make it easier for businesses to manage processes from end to end (such as quote- or order-to-cash) as well as to have transactions and business data available in a single system in consistent forms and synchronized. This in turn facilitates real-time reporting, dashboards and the use of analytics that integrate a wider set of functional data. Midsize companies are most likely to benefit from this integration because typically they have smaller, less sophisticated IT staffs than larger ones. A side benefit of having a single, integrated data source is improvement of situational awareness and visibility for executives and managers. It also enables organizations to reduce their use of spreadsheets for stitching together processes, doing routine analyses and reporting. These sorts of activities waste valuable time and reduce an organization’s agility.

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Topics: Microsoft, Mobile, SaaS, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Operational Performance Management (OPM), communications, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, process, PSA, reseller, Sage Software, UI, Unit4, user experience, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, CRM, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Social, Financial Performance Management, FPM, Plex, Professional Services Automation, Workday Collaboration

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

ERP’s Future Is Hybrid Cloud

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 20, 2014 9:56:42 PM

Information technologists are fond of predictions in which the next big thing quickly and entirely renders the existing thing so completely obsolete that only troglodytes would cling to such outmoded technology. While this vision of IT progress may satisfy the egos of technologists, it rarely reflects reality. Mainframes didn’t disappear, for example. Although they long ago lost their dominant position, many remain key parts of corporate computing infrastructures. The IT landscape is a hybrid because technology users have varying requirements and constraints that can lengthen replacement cycles. Most business users of IT pay little attention to the religious wars of technologists because they take a pragmatic approach: They use technology to achieve business ends. This scenario is repeating itself in clamor about another corporate mainstay, the ERP system, which advocates claim will soon be redeployed en masse to cloud computing. That, too, won’t happen. I believe that ERP will increasingly become cloud-based, but it will be in hybrid cloud environments.

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Topics: Microsoft, SaaS, Salesforce.com, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, PSA, reseller, Sage Software, Salesforce1, Unit4, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Workday, mobule, Plex, Professional Services Automation

Microsoft Shows Off More than ERP with Dynamics

Posted by Robert Kugel on Mar 12, 2014 1:30:04 PM

Convergence is the Microsoft Dynamics business software user group’s meeting. Dynamics’ core applications are mainly in the accounting and ERP category, descendants of products Microsoft acquired: Great Plains (now GP), Solomon (SL), Navision (NAV) and Damgaard’s Axapta (AX), to which Microsoft has added its own CRM application. It has been more than a decade since the acquisitions of Great Plains (which itself had already purchased Solomon Software), and Navision, Damgaard and the software applications family has evolved steadily if slowly since then. More recently, Microsoft has added cloud services that simplify and improve the connection between remote users and the on-premises core systems, as well as integration with Office365.

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Topics: Microsoft, SaaS, Salesforce.com, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Consulting, distribution, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, PSA, reseller, Sage Software, Salesforce1, Unit4, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), CFO, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Infor, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workday, mobule, Plex, Professional Services Automation

FinancialForce Broadens Its Reach with ERP and More

Posted by Robert Kugel on Feb 26, 2014 8:12:35 AM

FinancialForce recently introduced FinancialForce ERP, a family of cloud-based software designed to support a variety of customer-centric businesses such as professional services organizations or companies that specialize in business and industrial distribution. Many of these types of businesses are midsize or small (having 50 to 1,000 employees) and can benefit from the integration of FinancialForce’s accounting, professional services automation, human capital management (HCM) and supply chain management (SCM) software. The company added the last two capabilities at the end of 2013 with the acquisitions of Vana Workforce and Less Software, respectively, which I commented  on. Like FinancialForce’s, their software runs on the Salesforce1 platform, which means that integration of these elements was straightforward. It also enables companies that use or are planning to use salesforce.com for sales and customer service to simplify integration of those with the operational and back-office software, by enabling single sign-on, end-to-end process management and a single data source for reporting and analysis. This integration can significantly reduce or even eliminate the need to re-enter information into systems or to use spreadsheets, documents and email to manage processes. With all of the data available in a single system, creating reports and automating their distribution becomes easier. All of this, in turn, should cut the amount of time and effort spent on administrative and clerical functions and enhance the productivity of the organization.

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Topics: SaaS, Salesforce.com, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Consulting, distribution, PSA, Salesforce1, supply chain automation, Unit4, Analytics, Cloud Computing, Accounting, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, HR, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Professional Services Automation, SCM

Professional Services Automation Makes Sense in the Cloud

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 22, 2011 9:34:53 AM

Cloud computing has changed the fundamental economics of business software, bringing new capabilities within reach of large numbers of small and midsize companies for the first time. Cloud-based ERP, for example, enables many midsize companies that in the past might have continued to use an entry-level accounting package to have more capable and sophisticated systems. The investment in software and IT capabilities to implement an ERP system on-premises is considerable enough that midsize companies often put up with a less-capable one. As well, midsize companies can now have their own call center operations because cloud-based offerings that support these operations require substantially lower up-front investments and have significantly lower operating costs than their on-premises counterparts. Consequently, a company that once outsourced all of its call center activities now has a greater degree of control of this strategic capability, often at a lower overall cost. The economic aspects of adopting the cloud are compelling, but there are other reasons as well. In some business software categories, even if the company has the IT resources and money to manage it on-premises, it makes better business sense to obtain this capability as a service in the cloud. For example, expense management is not a strategic process, and software users are often operating outside the company firewall.

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Topics: Operational Performance Management (OPM), Atlantic Global, Autotask, ConnectWise, Consulting, NetSuite OpenAi, PlanMill, ProjectHelp, Projector, PSA, Unanet Technologies, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), FinancialForce, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Professional Services, Professional Services Automation, Project Management