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

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, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Operational Performance Management (OPM), communications, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, Epicor, process, reseller, Sage Software, UI, Unit4, user experience, Analytics, Business Analytics, Cloud Computing, Collaboration, Accounting, 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, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Operational Performance Management (OPM), Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV Dynamics SL, reseller, Sage Software, UI, Unit4, user experience, Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Accounting, 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, Salesforce.com, ERP, HCM, Human Capital, Planview, Concur, 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, Tagetik, Workday, Workforce Performance Management (WPM), Plex

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