Robert Kugel's Analyst Perspectives

California Blue Shield Foundation Uses FinancialForce to Improve Finance Effectiveness

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 2, 2013 11:23:00 AM

As I’ve noted before, it’s common for CFOs of companies that are transitioning from being a small to a midsize business (that is, when they grow past about 100 employees) to find that the entry-level accounting package that they have been using no longer fits their needs. This software may be inexpensive to purchase and easy to use but it lacks many of the customization and business process management capabilities that become increasingly important as organizations grow. The transition from such an application is especially difficult when it involves an on-premises system, because the up-front and ongoing costs of implementing and using these can be daunting. Usually, the shortcomings start off as minor annoyances for companies that have between 100 and 500 employees and grow over time, and usually the pain increases with the number of employees and the volume and complexity of the underlying business. Yet because of the cost, finance executives usually don’t want to migrate to a new system until their old software threatens the orderly management of the business or becomes an overwhelming burden on finance operations. For that reason, increasingly we are finding companies choosing to migrate to a cloud-based ERP system sooner in their evolution because it is usually a more affordable and easier transition than using on-premises software.

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Topics: Planning, Salesforce.com, ERP, Human Capital Management, Office of Finance, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Reporting, close, closing, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management, FinancialForce.com

Making Back Office Apps Fun

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 17, 2012 11:14:14 AM

Business software is beginning to undergo a design revolution comparable to the seismic shift from the green screen to the graphical user interface (GUI) that began in the mid-1980s. Three forces are at work. One is the retirement of large numbers of members of the baby-boom generation and the rise of a generation that grew up with computers and computer games from a young age. Also, software and technology vendors have been recognizing the need to “consumerize” business applications as mobile device interactions, gestures and other newer user interface (UI) conventions, and are incorporating these innovations in their stodgy products. I commented on this in my assessment of Tidemark early this year. A third factor, “gamification” is all the rage in business consulting circles. The idea is to engage younger employees more completely by transforming dull, routine chores into more entertaining pursuits. I join with those skeptical of just how fun one can make clerical tasks. But software can – and should – be made less tedious (and therefore more productive), especially for a new generation of users.

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Topics: Big Data, Salesforce.com, OpenWorld, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Cloud Computing, Oracle, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Dreamforce, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Tidemark, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Business, design, development, GUI

Cloud Computing Challenges On-Premises for Software Preference

Posted by Robert Kugel on Oct 5, 2012 11:52:14 AM

Salesforce.com’s recent Dreamforce user conference got me wondering about how far the market for cloud-based software has come. To answer that question, I looked to our own research. For the past several years Ventana Research has routinely asked participants in its benchmark research what preference, if any, they have for deploying software they use to support the activity we are benchmarking. The choices we offer are on-premises, software as a service (SaaS – that is, in the cloud), hosted on a vendor’s servers) or no preference. I examined the responses from 1,110 participants in five benchmark research undetakings that cut across lines of business and IT areas to determine what, if any, patterns I could find in the responses.

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Topics: SaaS, Sales, Salesforce.com, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Cloud Computing, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Software

Salesforce Helps Midsize Company Dreams Come True

Posted by Robert Kugel on Sep 21, 2012 11:42:57 AM

I cover the meat-and-potatoes aspects of corporate computing. I also pay attention to the special needs of midsize companies (by our definition, those with between 100 and 999 employees), which are unlike those of either small business or large corporations. After attending this year’s Dreamforce conference, Salesforce.com’s annual user meeting held this week in San Francisco, I can appreciate how difficult it is for executives and people who work in back office functions to cut through the technology hoopla to find the utterly practical (but certainly not dull) reasons why the cloud can help them run their businesses better. In fact, cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings can give midsize companies a leg up in ways that on-premises alternatives can’t. Here are four big ones that top my list.

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Topics: Sales, Salesforce.com, Social Media, ERP, Office of Finance, CRM customer service, SMB, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Customer Performance Management (CPM), Dreamforce, finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Security, FPM

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

Infor’s Management Outlines Corporate and Software Strategy

Posted by Robert Kugel on Jan 16, 2012 10:58:19 AM

I recently met with Infor’s management team, led by CEO Charles Phillips. Phillips joined Infor in October 2010 after leaving Oracle, taking several other executives with him, including Duncan Angove, now president of Infor, and Pam Murphy, now the COO. In addition to the changes in the executive suite, Soma Somasundaram, who had been at Infor and its predecessor companies since 1995, became EVP in charge of R&D. A private company, Infor had been keeping a low profile for the past several years, probably because results were nothing to brag about, and I suspect Phillips wanted to wait until there were substantive improvements to point to before fully engaging with analysts. Subsequent to his arrival, Golden Gate Capital, the private equity firm that assembled Infor from dozens of once-independent software companies, acquired ERP vendor Lawson Software in July 2011. Lawson itself had merged with Intentia, a Swedish ERP company in 2005. I estimate pro-forma 2011 revenues for Infor plus Lawson for a full year at $2.7 billion (the company has not published this number). This is only a fraction of 2011 revenues for SAP (about $14.5 billion) and Oracle’s applications ($6.8 billion). Infor reported that organic growth in license revenues was 17 percent, roughly in line with comparable companies, and executives indicated in the meeting that maintenance renewals have improved.

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Topics: Salesforce.com, Social Media, ERP, Human Capital Management, Marketing, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Epiphany, expense management, Lawson Software, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), finance, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Infor, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Financial Performance Management

Zyme Solutions Tackles Channel Data Challenge

Posted by Robert Kugel on Apr 27, 2011 12:27:04 PM

Companies (especially in high technology) that sell through an indirect channel face a difficult challenge because global sales channels are complex, fragmented and changeable, with different business practices and customs than direct channels. Keeping track of which products have sold in and sold through which partners can be a difficult task. Unless a company is working with only a handful of channel partners, just collecting the data is time-consuming. Not only is the data complex, much of it is taken from disparate IT systems of individual channel partners. They report their data at different times and in different ways using a mishmash of data structures, aggregations and nomenclature, so companies have to go through a data-cleansing step to acquire a consistent data set with which to work. Yet having accurate, detailed and timely data is important to both the day-to-day and strategic management of a corporation. Without that, it’s hard to manage customer and partner relationships effectively and have a timely, accurate view of aggregate indirect channel sales and inventory positions.

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Topics: Sales, Salesforce.com, Human Capital Management, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Zyme Solutions, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), channel, CRM, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM)

The Headquarters Effect and Salesforce.com

Posted by Robert Kugel on Dec 24, 2010 12:02:39 PM

Wall Street has many leading indicators to work with, some serious – such as housing starts and the purchasing managers’ index – and some done a bit tongue-in-cheek. One of the latter is the Super Bowl Indicator, which says that if a team from the original National Football League wins the game, the market will be up for the year, but if an old American Football League team wins it, the market will be down. The amazing thing is that so far this heuristic has an accuracy rate better than 75%! On the other hand, over time some venerable weather vanes become unreliable. For example, the “hem line theory” (that stocks rise and fall with the direction of this aspect of women’s fashion) lost its (ahem) legs, partly because fashion these days is much more anarchic.

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Topics: Salesforce.com, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Business Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Enterprise Software, Business Performance Management (BPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Information Management (IM), IT Performance Management (ITPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM)