Posts Tagged ‘Enterprise Business Apps’

News Analysis: FinancialForce.com ERP Arrives To Signal The Era Of Best Of Breed Cloud Suites

FinancialForce Debuts Its Full ERP Suite


On February 19th, San Francisco headquartered, FinancialForce.com announced the launch of its full suite of ERP offerings built on the Salesforce1 platform.  Backed by investments from UNIT4 and Salesforce.com, the cloud based vendor began as a single ledger financial management system built on the Salesforce.com Force.com platform.  The announcement and product launch shows how FinancialForce:

  • Delivers a full ERP suite on the Salesforce1 platform. The platform brings together a series of organic products and recent acquisitions in HR, supply chain, and project management (see Figure 1).  The December 2010 acquisition of Appirio’s professional services automation assets form the Professional Services Automation offering.  The 2013 acquisitions of Vana Workforce and Less Software brought the human capital management (HCM) and supply chain management (SCM) capabilities.

    Point of View (POV):
    The management team at FinacialForce.com was smart to bring in acquisitions built on the original Force.com platform.  Post merger integration was greatly simplified as the products shared a common architectural base.  More importantly, the acquired solutions were easily upgraded to the Salesforce1 platform to create an end to end ERP cloud based ERP suite.  Customers gain the full advantages of the Salesforce 1 platform and integration with the core Salesforce CRM offerings.
  • Demonstrates focus on long term growth and viability .  FinancialForce.com showed 80% year over year growth in revenue run-rate compared to 2012.  Headcount grew 62% year over year with over 260 global employees.  Furthermore, customers represent a global base with 27 countries and users in 45 countries.

    (POV):
    Cloud has gone mainstream and customers now expect their cloud companies to demonstrate viability.  The mergers and acquisitions required to build a full cloud ERP suite signal a maturity by FinancialForce.com and the market.  Early customers of the full suite provide positive references on both the synergies of the ERP offering and the flexibility of the Salesforce1 platform for extensibility.

Figure 1. FinancialForce.com Launches A Full Integrated ERP Suite

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News Analysis: New #IBMWatson Business Group Heralds The Commercialization Of Cognitive Computing. Ready For Augmented Humanity?

IBM Launches New Business Group In New York’s Silicon Alley

On January 9th, 2014, on top of 4 World Trade Place, IBM CEO Ginni Rommety and long time veteran, but newly minted, IBM Watson Group Senior Vice President Michael Rhodin, announced IBM’s commitment to putting an entire business unit around Watson (see Figure 1).  The arrival of Watson represents a culmination of artificial intelligence, natural language processing, dynamic learning, and hypothesis generation to take vast quantities of data to make better decisions.  The IBM Watson business unit is the tech giant’s multi-year $1 billion initiative to deliver cloud based cognitive computing products for industries such as healthcare, retail, financial services, advertising, travel, and hospitality.

Figure 1. IBM Watson Group’s, Senior VP Mike Rhodin With A Warm Welcome

Source: IBM

Three key insights emerge from the launch:

  • IBM is committed to creating a brand new category and ecosystem. Focused on cognitive computing, over 2000 professionals form the newest business unit at IBM headquartered in New York City’s Silicon Alley.  The Watson ecosystem launched on November 14th, 2013 has over 750 applicants and $100M in equity investment (see Figure 2).  The ecosystem includes the Watson Developer Cloud, Watson Content Store, and the Watson Talent Hub.  In addition, the new business group is headed by IBM veteran Mike Rhodin.  Mike is a senior and well rounded executive who led the software solutions group which included the Business Analytics, Smarter Cities, Smarter Commerce, and Social Business product lines.

    Point of View (POV):
    The ability to self learn enables continuously reprogramming.  Cognitive computing is more than a new category.  These advancements represents a new class of technology to enable human and machine guided decisions.  IBM’s commitment can be seen by the level of executive and the management team chosen to grow a brand new class of software, services, and apps.  Constellation believes that the IBM Watson team has put forth a wide range of innovative ecosystem partnerships across a diverse set of industries.  In fact, the client solutions center and design lab are key to clients experiencing how Watson can create disruptive business models and transform an industry.  Moreover, the establishment of a business incubator is key to attracting crucial talent, technology, and ecosystem to spark new ventures.

 

Figure 1. IBM Showcases The Entire Watson Family and Ecosystem

Source: IBM

  • IBM is putting considerable resources towards the commercialization of products and services. At the unveiling, IBM announced three new cloud-delivered Watson offerings to add to the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor launched on May 21, 2013.  IBM Watson Discovery Advisor uses cognitive intelligence to apply context on vast quantities of unstructured and structured data.  The goal -  identify patterns for research teams to advance their efforts in industries such as pharma, publishing, and education.  IBM Watson Analytics provides capabilities that allow users to verbally ask questions and receive high quality data visualizations and insights.  IBM Watson Explorer provides the toosl to find, extract, and deliver content regardless of format or data source.
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News Analysis: Verint Announces Intent To Acquire Kana For $514M

Verint Adds to Vovici and Contact Center Assets To Expand Customer Engagement Offerings


On January 6th, Melville, NY based Verint® Systems announced a $514M intent to acquire Sunnyvale, CA, KANA Software.  Verint is a software vendor with a core in analytical software.  Verint’s core offerings provide enterprise intelligence and security intelligence.  The acquisition is significant in the market because:

  • Big data and analytics meet customer experience. Verint expects to expand its customer engagement optimization offering with the acquisition of Kana.  Verint’s core capabilites, Vovici’s voice of the customer assets, and Kana’s multichannel customer experience solutions allow customers to move from data to information to insight to action or decisions.

    Point of View (POV):
    Bringing intelligence into customer experience adds context and relevancy. This combination is a key step in moving from systems of engagement to systems of mass personalization at scale.  Constellation expects more acquisitions that combine the 5 pillars of digital business – social, mobile, cloud, big data and analytics, and unified communications.
  • Verint gains key customers and industries. Verint’s key customer base of 10,000 customers gets 900 new customers in six key industires.  Kana’s base includes a variety of marquee brands and public sector agencies in the mid market to enterprise space.  Business service customers include Hyatt, Starwood, USPS, and Priceline.com.  Communications and media customers include O2, Comcast, Cox, Quest, Talk Talk Group, Telekom Austria, Telus, Time Warner Cable,  Tracfone, Virgin Mobile, and Vodafone.  Financial services customers include Admiral, Bank Leumi, Capital One, Chase, Citigroup, Domestic and General HSBC, ING, Barclays,  Standard Bank, and VHI.  Retail and wholesale clients include American Greetings, Avon, Carglass, Conrad, Foot Locker, Hanes More…

News Analysis: Acumatica Raises $10M In Series C Funding, Aims For 1B In Revenue By 2023

New Funding Round Fuels Road Map And Geographic Expansion


On November 18th, privately held Acumatica announced Series C funding from Runa Capital and Almaz Capital.  The  Kirkland, WA based Acumatica, has been quietly providing its partners a customizable, cloud-based ERP and CRM development platform for the SMB market.  Acumatica’s previous rounds were funded by Visma (a KKR company) and Almaz Capital (backed by Cisco).  The announcement is significant because Acumatica intends to:

  • Expand its partner base into new markets. Acumatica currently has offices in Washington DC, Singapore, and Moscow.  Through affiliates, resellers, and partners,  Acumatica is present in the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, Nordics, The Netherlands, Africa, Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia.  Sales come exclusively from partners.  Thus, the company intends to recruit more partners for high growth markets such as Asia and Latin America.  European expansion will focus on a replacement ERP market of aging systems

    Point of View (POV):
    Early success with Acumatica has come from the ease of use and functional footprint that accelerates a partner’s ability to take a solution to market.  However, future growth will require the leadership team to increase its investment in brand awareness and partner enablement.  Expect key hires in partner sales, support, and R&D.  Given the limited number of qualified partners in the market, Acumatica will have to convince partners from competitors to switch.  Early indications show this market traction.  In fact, since August 2013, Acumatica has added 50 partners, bringing the total to 270.

Trends: Real World Lessons In Optimizing The Customer Service Experience From Kana Connect

Workshop On Optimizing Your Customer Service Experience Identifies Eight Strategies
At the 2013 Kana Connect event from September 15th to 17th, 2013 in New Orleans, I had the pleasure of co-leading a workshop with Scott Hays a Sr. Director, Product Marketing for KANA Software.  The goal of the session was to explore eight strategies to improve customer experience. 

By now, you are well aware that “experience counts.” Your customers’ loyalty and future purchases hang in the balance. In this session, we’ll explore the key things you can do to make sure their experiences are positive. Ray Wang from Constellation Research and Scott Hays from KANA guide an interactive workshop to invigorate your future initiatives.

Speaker(s): Scott Hays, Ray Wang, Constellation Research

The event began with a overview of  Constellation 9C’s of customer engagement  and then an overview of the eight ways to optimize your customer service experience.  Teams were broken up to documen current state and to rank future state.  Teams were told to identify the top three ways among these eight strategies:

  1. Effortless and personalized
  2. Channel convenience
  3. Channel consistency
  4. Social media
  5. Unified agent desktop
  6. Agent knowledge
  7. Process-driven
  8. Internationalization

Results Show Future Focus on Channel Consistency, Social Media, and Effortless and Personalized

Given the Kana customer base, current state priorities of agent knowledge, process driven, and channel convenience came as little surprise to the participants.  In fact, most workshop attendees have had More…

Event Report: Metaio’s #InsideAR Conference Hails The Future Of An Always On, Always Augmented Reality

Digital Business Arrives In The Always On Always Augmented World


On October 10th and 11th, 2013, over 800 attendees from more than 45 countries arrived at the Munich Olympic Park to share their passion and excitement about the latest augmented reality (AR) developments (see Figure 1).  Hosted by augmented reality pioneer Metaio, Inside AR 2013, has emerged as one of the world’s largest conferences dedicated to the business of AR.  The conference touched on key areas such as:

  • Wearable computing
  • Hardware advances
  • Applications and development
  • Global adoption
  • Future of digital business and AR
  • AR use cases from engineering to sales
  • Consumer AR
  • Future of print and packaging in AR
  • Public sector use cases

Figure 1. Full Flickr Stream Of InsideAR Including Demo Videos


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Source: Copyright © 2001 – 2013 R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC All rights reserved.

Augmented Reality Brings Contextual Experiences To Life

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Event Report: The Evolution And Maturation of @Tibbr at #Tucon2013, the Tibco User Conference

tibbr Continues To Show Momentum In Customer Adoption And Addition Of Key Enterprise Social Features

On October 14th to 17th 2013, the Tibbr enterprise social crowd mingled with the core Tibco faithful at this year’s TUCON 2013 user conference in Las Vegas.  (An analysis of the broader Tibco announcements can be found from my colleague Holger Mueller).  While the Tibbr team continues to build synergies with the core Tibco offering in Big Data, Events, Integration, and BPM, the Tibbr team also made key announcements that include:

  • tibbr crosses the 6.5M users adoption mark. The team announced paid user growth from 1.2M to 6.5M in over a year.  Distribution partnerships with Amazon Web Services (AWS), KPN, and T-Systems highlight future opportunities for growth.

    POV:
    The team’s partnerships and geographic expansion in Latin America and EMEA have paid off. With an entry point of $12 per user per month, 6.5M users represents a sizable growth in subscriber base, even after enterprise wide discounting.  Given the virality of successful enterprise social networks (ESN), tibbr could prove to be a key cross-sell lead gen for the rest of Tibco’s products.
  • tibbr Files and partnership with Huddle. tibbr Files allows customers to integrate with existing content and file systems such as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Huddle, and SharePoint.  Users can access tibbr to view conversations, work on files, and collaborate through the tibbr interface.  the tibbr team announced its partnership with Huddle at Tucon 2013.

    Point of View (POV):
    Customers have been clamoring for more out of the box integration options to unify content repositories.  The partnership with Huddle is crucial for organizations that rely on Huddle’s security mechanisms.  In tibbr, users retain their security, permissions, and versions when accessing Huddle’s files.
  • tibbr Tasks. tibbr Tasks provides social task management capabilities.  Users can create tasks in process, track and update tasks via social channels, and manage a visual portfolio of tasks across all project management tools.

    POV:
    Tasks are a key requirement for supporting Purposeful Collaboration as described by colleague Alan Lepofsky. Many customers have deployed tibbr to unify disparate business processes.  The addition of tasks embedded in enterprise social will improve collaboration at the business process level.
  • tibbr Pages. The new pages product allows users to publish content within and outside the organization.  Pages also retains tibbr security rules.

    POV:
    The tibbr team takes a stab at the proliferation of Microsoft SharePoint kudzu with its own application.  By enabling users to find, publish, and share, the tibbr team adds another key tool to enabling content creation and collaboration for users.

Figure 1. The Tucon 2013 Scene and New Tibbr App Screen Shots



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Source: 2013 R Wang and Insider Associates. All rights reserved.

The Bottom Line: tibbr Emerge As A Key Player For Enterprise Social

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News Analysis: Zuora Raises $50M Series E Round, Rides #MatrixCommerce Wave

Zuora Rides The Wave In The Subscription Economy

On September 5th, 2013, Foster City, CA based Zuora, announced $50 million in Series E capital.  The announcement has significant ramifications not only for Zuora’s self proclaimed subscription economy category, but also the broader business theme of matrix commerce because Zuora:

  • Expanded the investor pool. Zuora successfully added Next World Capital, Northgate Capital and Vulcan Capital to existing investors.  Benchmark Capital, Greylock Partners, Index Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Tenaya Capital, Workday founder and co-CEO Dave Duffield and Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, salesforce.com all contributed to the existing round.

    Point of View (POV):
    The quality of the investment round and the amount indicate significant affirmation that the subscription economy thesis carries a gravitas among the A-list of Silicon valley investors and angels.   With $132.5M in funds raised to date, Zuora is sitting on tremendous amounts of cash from fundraising.  While Zuora could wait well into 2014 for an additional round, the move to raise additional capital will provide Zuora with an advantage over any new entrants or potential direct competitors.  Buyers can expect Zuora to be around for quite some time.
  • Added new board members with deep experiences. CEO and founder Tien Zuo adds Abhishek Agrawal of Vulcan Capital and Craig Hanson of Next World Capital to the board.

    Point of View (POV):
    Craig Hanson  brings significant experience in mergers and acquisitions of late stage and public companies.  Successful acquisitions include MXLogic, LeftHand Networks, NexGen Storage, Nimsoft, PSS Systems, and SenSage.  Abhishek Agrawal brings deep consumer experience from his General Atlantic heritage including Alibaba Gropu, Bazaarvoice, Dice, Facebook, Gilt Groupe, and Network solutions.  Buyers can expect more expertise in supporting vertical markets.  Buyers can expect new partnerships and entry into new geographies.
  • Demonstrated continued growth in a new market category. Since 2007, Zuora’s core solution provides subscription commerce, billing, and finance solutions for pay-as-you-go pricing models.   The More…

Event Report: CRM Evolution 2013 – Seven Trends In The Return To Digital Business And Customer Centricity

Market Leaders Refocus On Digital Business and Customer Centricity

The annual gathering of the industry’s top thought leaders, users, and vendors of CRM converged at the Marriott Marquis in New York this past August 19th to 21st.  As with any good conference, the speaker tracks and the corridor conversations provided a glimpse of where market leaders and fast followers planned to make their future investments and provided key insights for 2014.  After speaking with over 100 attendees, the following seven trends emerged from this year’s event:

  1. CRM is dead, well not really. While the term CRM is loosely used to define many things.  Leaders realize that CRM is the technology.  Customer experience is the business process and journey maps.  Customer centricity is a state of mind that’s required of management and leaders.  While customer experience is the new term du jour, all three elements (i.e. technology, business process, and people leadership) are required for success.  Front office is more descriptive than Tom Siebel’s legacy term of CRM.
  2. Customers seek outcomes not products or services. Customers no longer buy products.  Customers expect products to be bundled with services.  Services providers now seek to sell experiences.  Experience providers now sell access to outcomes.  This evolution of what customer’s want and what’s delivered continues to accelerate.  With hipsters and millennials short on cash, access, experiences, and outcomes have emerged as one market category to deliver for in this growing sharing economy.  However, not all customers seek just access. A movement to move too far, will result in a backlash from a majority of customers who seek ownership without the shackles of renting.
  3. Transformation projects now rally behind the shift from social back to digital business. The social business and social crm era focused on a key aspect of CRM – the relationship.  In the past, CRM excelled at management, poorly accomplished customer, and failed at relationship.  Looking back three years,  the rise of social ties back to the need to address relationships.  Now that social moves to the mainstream, market leaders refocus to digital transformation of customer centric initiatives.
  4. Funnels make no sense in an asynchronous world. Classic sales, marketing, and service funnels force fit customers into unrealistic models.  Entry points will ebb and flow as channels and context drive demand into a variety of use cases.  Design must account for this constant state of change.
  5. Big data provides relevancy and context. All the hype on big data continues to miss the point.  Customer centricity requires context.  Context creates relevancy based on a customer’s roles, relationships, products, services, location, time, sentiment, and intent.  Without relevancy, acquisition, targeting, and personalization will fail.
  6. Front office still needs back office integration. Integration with back office is required for customer experience.  A customer who makes an order for a product or service that’s out of stock and billed twice for something they did not receive will most likely be upset.  Customer centricity is both a front office and back office exercise.
  7. Identity plays a key role. Identity plays a multi-faceted role for each individual. The business implications of identity after authentication, authorization, access, and availability touch on commerce, work lives, personal lives, and engagement with each other.  Identity is a unifying factor in the current transformation to a digital world and required for customer centricity.

The Bottom Line: Business Leaders Must Embrace Customer Centricity In Order to Differentiate In A Digital World

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Monday’s Musings: NSA PRISM Scandal Hurts US Cloud Companies And Hastens The Return Of On-Premises Software

Non-US Based Organizations And Even Some US Organizations Will Not Tolerate Snooping In A Post PRISM World

Since the Edward Snowden PRISM revelations, Constellation has received a steady stream of inquiries on cloud strategy.   In fact, nervousness runs high among many non-US based companies using services from US based cloud companies across the cloud stack.  In early August 2013, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation put out its report “How Much Will PRISM Cost the U.S. Cloud Computing Industry” Assuming that 20% of current clients switch to a non US based provider,  the report estimates a loss of $22 to 35B by 2016.

Constellation agrees.  All signs point to an anti-US stance until the security issues is addressed.  The odds on the US government moving fast on this issue are as good as Major League Baseball players or Tour de France Cyclists honoring a performance enhancement drug use ban.  In fact, Constellation is aware of at least 50+ contracts that have been put on hold or cancelled in the past 30 days.  With the EU’s Nellie Kroes already sounding the alarm bells in a way she only can, cloud buyers have taken notice.

The Bottom Line: Clients Should Consider Alternatives To Pure Cloud Models And Encryption Technology

Interesting enough, fifteen years into the cloud revolution, talk has rekindled about building on-premises software in light of this scandal. Unfortunately, the last major on-premises software company to receive funding squandered it all in 2005 and retooled to the cloud. Furthermore, a few entrepreneurs are looking at VC funding to take some key systems back on-premises.

However customers do not have time to wait for new software to arrive in the on-premises deployment option.  In the meantime, a few near term strategies have emerged:

  1. More…

News Analysis: Kana Express 13 Addresses Omni-Channel Customer Service for Mid-Market

Just 14 months after announcing the acquisition of Trinicom, Kana has revealed the latest release of its cloud customer service suite for the mid-market, Kana Express.   Released on June 27, 2013, the new product reflects the company’s mission “To provide leading customer service solutions that empower our customers to create experiences that count, for their customers wherever they engage”.

Key features in the release include:

  • Advanced analytics and reporting. Kana Express features improved trend analysis, performance reporting, and forecasting.  Personalization has been improved and new reporting options include an easy to use custom dashboard designer.

    Point of View (POV):
    Analytics and reporting is often an after thought in design for mid-market solutions.  Key reports such as contact flux, cockpits, and customer monitors provide not only information, but insight into what the next best action could be.  The custom dashboard designer enables easy creation of visualizations and filtering of data by dimensions.
  • Anytime, anywhere, access. Improvements in access include mobile device usage, Section 508 disability compliance, and internationalization capabilities.  Support for 30 languages out of the box, user defined time zones, double-byte character sets, and international address validation add to a list of features supporting international business requirements .

    Point of View (POV):
    Prospects will most likely flock to the eye candy features of mobile support for device and screen readers.  However, the internationalization efforts close the gap between large expensive enterprise solutions and what mid-market solutions traditionally offered.  Constellation sees this as an immediate win for companies with an international footprint but not an international budget.
  • Improved browser based user experience. Kana Express supports Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari browsers.  Additional enhancements include support for live chat, contextual next best options, and real-time access to the knowledge base.

    Point of View (POV):
    Agents can tailor the new UI and personalize to their preferences, reducing click throughs and improving productivity.  One powerful feature is the ability to automatically present contextual knowledge such as a related topic, interaction history information, or external system data.

Figure 1. Kana Express Screenshots Show New User Experience and Improved Accessability

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Research Summary: Demystifying Social Business – Optimizing the Lead to Deal Process (Sales)

Forward And Commentary

Constellation Research pioneered the complete set of front office and back office use cases for social business in 2010. This report provides insight into a key mega-area — lead to deal use cases. This best practices research report offers insight into two of Constellation’s primary research themes, the Next-Generation Customer Experience and the Consumerization of Information Technology/The New C-Suite.

A. Introduction

Social business initiatives have gained acceptance as a key driver in business innovation. Since 2010, organizations have experimented and successfully deployed social business initiatives across a variety of business processes. In Constellation’s recent 2013 survey of 237 social business adopters, more than a majority (57.8 percent) of the market leaders and fast follower respondents had moved from experimentation to scaling social business initiatives to match demand. This trend signifies the successful growth of social business across a number of use cases.

With over 50 use cases identified in the survey, organizations now have defined entry points to begin social business initiatives. Consequently, many businesses can learn from the experience of market leaders and fast followers. Constellation has curated eight mega-use cases for social business that cover key business processes such as:

  • Campaign to lead
  • Lead to deal
  • Incident to resolution
  • Kick off to delivery
  • Concept to production
  • Sourcing to acceptance
  • Hire to retire
  • Invoice to payment

This report focuses on the lead to deal mega-use case, which includes both traditional business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) situations such as territory management, collaborative selling, partner selling, crowdsourced intelligence, matrix commerce, save the deal and steal the deal. These use cases should provide a starting point for mapping out the sales journey.

B. Research Findings – As Adoption Progresses, Seven Major Use Cases Emerge for Sales Processes
The recent 2013 survey of 237 global social business adopters shows 57.8 percent of the market leaders and fast follower respondents scaling social business initiatives to match demand (see Figure 1). This shift from choosing the right go-forward platform in 2012 highlights a move from Level 3 (Evangelization) to Level 4 (Pervasiveness).  This first wave of people has started to see the benefits of social business initiatives and intends to scale them out throughout their organizations and value networks.  They have succeeded by finding executive sponsors, measuring metrics that matter and aligning with business processes.

Figure 1. Social Business Adoption Moves From Platform Consolidation to Scale

(right click to view image)

Seven Key Use Cases Emerge in Lead to Deal

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