Friday, December 21, 2007
In any case, we will dispense with any airing of grievances, and instead wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season! Here’s to a great 2008, where we resolve to try to use this blog for good, not evil; write and act closer to our age, and continue on our quest for the holy grail of BI and performance management that we’re sure exists somewhere…
We’ll see you in January, 2008!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
There’s no doubt PDAs will be popular stocking stuffer this year, whether it’s the new iPhone, Blackberry, or Windows Smart Phone, there’s something out there for everyone. The mobile market has always been read hot but when I read a recent article about RIMs Q3 earnings announce that more than doubled, I couldn’t help but write a post about the growth of mobile and the relevance to mobile BI.
Look for the wave of PDA user empowerment to continue and vendors to look for simpler ways to get information into the hands of the business users. Good or bad, BI on the mobile device is yet another reason to make us all more addicted to our little dingleberries!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
What's missing from Stroger's budget plan is specific-enough objectives, said Gidwitz, a director of Rush University Medical Center, which works closely with the four county-run hospitals. "Where you can cut is the second question," he said. "The first question is, 'What do we need? What are the priorities and strategies?'"
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
So just when you thought it was safe to get on with business because we have so completely and thoroughly covered BI in 2008 via multiple predictions as noted here, along comes yet more BI predictions from Oco. I guess that gives us a total of 20 predictions on BI in 2008 (at least that we know of). The Oco 5:
- BI goes diagonal. In 2008, we will see the era of vertical and horizontal BI solutions converging toward diagonal solutions -- those focused on specific business problems extending across similar industries. (Huh?!? I am not sure I even know where to start with this one)
- BI Best Practices...customers will insist on best practices to measure and improve their performance. (I would file this one under the Seth Grimes obvious category. In other news, data quality is important and A-Rod is well paid)
- Technology will move from an IT priority to a business decision. Business users will decide what type of technology, what business model, and even which vendor. (Not only are these mutually exclusive, but anyone who ever took a project in front of a purchase committee knows this is self evident. )
- Growth of the IT Light Solution Model. Forward looking organizations are looking at projects more strategically and selecting business models to move faster. (There is more here but it doubles back on business model, vendor and some reference to IT off shoring)
- BI adoption rate expands into small and medium-sized organizations. BI will become more mainstream in 2008 with adoption in the mid-market. (I am having a hard time with this one for a variety of reasons including BI for the mid-market is such an old idea, small companies like Microsoft spend a lot of time here, say it with me "open source", and the sentence makes no sense.)
Generally, I would like to give credit for having a point of view and sharing it with the market. However, when you apply the Jim Rome rule, "Have a take, don't suck", this clearly does not meet the standard. It looks like the Oco guys saw competitor LucidEra's top 5 and shifted into action mode. Not fast action, because they are down 15 predictions to team Lucid, Intelligent Enterprise, and the Performance Guys.
However, 10 days later when they get in the game, they produce the BI equivalent of a football team looking at 3rd and 25 who runs a draw play to clear 5 yards for the punt team. BI goes diagonal? Seriously? You can't make that up. Seriously?
It looks like Oco is on to something with SaaS BI, focus on segments and customers, and appears to have a smart CEO. They also make a guarantee of success and apply a fixed bid methodology to their delivery approach. Very interesting. It also looks like their marketing, or at least their PR sucks, and that the CEO did not read the press release where he was quoted before it hit the wire. (I am also not sure about the Cincinnati Bengals Nike Swoosh logo thing, but that is another column.)
Oco has some name brand customers, a strong value proposition and a chance to succeed in 2008. Here is hoping they make good.
Now the skeptics and competitive vendors among us will point out, and perhaps rightly so, that these press releases are nothing more than a rebranding of the Applix products now that the acquisition has been completed. In in part, they would be correct. But it's hard to argue with the fact that when you read the reviews of the Applix acquisition from analyst firms who caution customers and prospects to get a better idea of the Cognos plans before committing to the Cognos solution, this is a necessary step to help regain lost market moment momentum that inevitably occurs during these "we bought them but don't quite own them yet" periods.
But if you dig down a bit further into the first press release, you see that they're really beefing up both the innovation center concept; and with the introduction of the pharma performance solutions, they still have a really comprehensive offering around the discipline of performance management--it's good to see them back in the game and fully engaged.
Frankly admitting that "The products do not currently integrate with the Cognos 8 BI software," and that that work should be done sometime next year, is refreshing. Too often vendors who grow by acquisition try to apply some quick back-end band-aids, which end up fooling no one. And with the enormity of the roadmap exercises facing the big vendors as they try to digest these acquisitions, few would believe that the necessary resources have already been devoted to back-end integration at this piont anyway.
It's been a busy week for our friends up in Ottawa, which we'll continue detailing next...
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I ran across this article from famed author Michael Lewis (Moneyball, The New New Thing) in Financial Week that gives precious insight into O'Neal's last days at the helm. Between August 12 and September 30th O'Neal played 20 rounds at 4 different courses. You can look it up on the USGA website. While ML was busy losing $8.4B, O'Neal's handicap improved slightly from 10.2 to 9.1. With his expected $160M buy-out, it is a good bet his handicap goes even lower.
The article with commentary from Lewis inside the mind and out on the course is worth the read. I guess personal performance when the chips are down really counts.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
ETL--Cadillac, Toyota, or the power windows that are really standard but could be sold separately--discuss amongst yourselves...
Finance, meet IT, IT, Finance--ok, um, wow, this is awkward...
SAP and Microsoft--two great tastes that taste great together!
Why do we think this study was sponsored by the makers of Altoids?
Business Objects and SPSS--two great tastes tha--oh wait, we did that one already.
Well, that will do it for us this week everyone. Two of the three PG's will be getting all gussied up for the big holiday shindig at PG Guy's house tomorrow evening. If a holiday party is in your weekend plans, enjoy the debauchery and remember--lamp shades go best with a plaid or brighter colored sweater.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
December means holiday sales, all you can eat football, any excuse for a holiday party, and operating plan reviews. Often this includes a look back at the year and a look ahead. Our good friends at LucidEra added their good cheer and prognostication to the BI market with a press release and blog on what is ahead for BI in 2008. According to team Lucid:
1. SaaS BI will gain market traction. (We assumed this based on Lucid's funding round this year)
2. Innovation will be led by smaller vendors (Hmmm)
3. There will be a shift away from tools to pre-built apps (may not be great for Lucid)
4. Applications that integrate data and improve processes across transactional systems will drive the next wave of SaaS (they are on to something here)
5. A new breed of BI channel partner will emerge (or old partners breed new services and offers)
Full credit to LucidEra for having a point of view and sharing it via multiple channels. I would not be surprised to find they are growing, especially via their Salesforce relationship and focus on applications tied to revenue visibility. Every CEO wants to know, "where is my deal?" so this makes all the sense in the world.
However, if prediction 3 is right, it does not bode well for Lucid and small fry. Now that Cognos, Hyperion and Business Objects have all moved their BI platforms and applications to the P/L statements of larger applications providers, the law of the jungle suggests that unless the small guys deliver a discontinuous innovation with high barrier to entry, the large full stack applications vendors will win early and often.
An entertaining rebuttal to the Lucid top 5 was posted by Seth Grimes in his weblog with Intelligent Enterprise. Seth gives Ken Rudin credit for insight, followed by suggesting that his top 5 list was "mighty solipsistic". Ouch. Like Dennis Miller ouch. (Yeah, I didn't either so I looked it up with my friend Merriam.) Not sure this makes Ken Rudin out to be Bill Parcells, but maybe it explains why LucidEra lists itself in their own customer list. Got to say, I don't think I have seen that one before.
Seth then adds his own list of BI prognostications for 2008:
- Ever increasing attention to data quality
- BI integration of streaming and text-extracted data.
- Location intelligence.
- Collaborative analytics.
- Advances in natural-language query and question-answering capabilities, which will all the same remain far from mature.
- The start of attention to data provenance, reliability, and uncertainty
12. The intersection of business process with business intelligence and performance management. Gartner suggested in their last BI MQ that combining BI with process management was likely to happen this year. It did with Tibco buying Spotfire as we noted here. Both Forrester and Gartner indicate this is a no-brainer, and Ken's item #4 starts to point this direction, but this is by no means limited to SaaS and is much more about process than data.
It is only a matter of time because process management as a market is projected to be a $6B stand alone market by 2010 by IDC, and it is growing at about 25% CAGR. Looks pretty sexy next to the BI growth numbers, however the BI guys don't have a good solution. Oracle has some notion of integration-centric process management, Business Objects has no actual process management capability but SAP is heading in this direction via Netweaver, Cognos relationship with Lombardi is dead, and SAS appears to be doing barney partnerships with a couple vendors while they try to figure it out. It is coming. Write it down.
13. Open source BI is big and getting bigger. See also JasperSoft and Pentaho. What don't you get about free?
14. Simplicity and ease of use. Somebody commented on this in a response to Seth's blog and is right on point. Why can't my BI portal be as sexy as my fantasy football dashboard and reports? It remains my contention that if everyone could customize their applications, dashboards and reports with everything from their favorite sports team to their Second Life avatar, BI usage would skyrocket.
15. Predictive analytics. This crosses into the process management world as well as complex data mining and modeling. Business Objects just announced a partnership with SPSS as we noted here. If predictive analytics can continue to be simplified and broadly available, things will get interesting.
It seems we could discuss further the intersection of the BI and performance management, but rationalization of overlap in the portfolios of the big vendors will happen naturally over time.
Here's to an exciting 2008!
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
While they briefly ventured into the world of analytic applications back in 2003-2004, they eventually abandoned that strategy and refocused both their development, as well as their sales efforts, on the far-less sexy, but all-of-a-sudden far more important aspect of integrating data from any data source, cleaning it up, and getting it ready for use.
It’s a sobering, but often realistic fact of life that when something bad happens, while one group suffers, there’s likely another group that actually benefits—morbid to think about, but part of the world in which we live. We mourn a relative dying, but funeral homes and graveyards actually need people to die to stay in business. Our car breaks down, the tow truck takes Visa; the plane is delayed, the Body Shop in the terminal makes a sale—it happens all around us. Now OK, you’re obviously asking what the F*&% this has to do with data integration. And I’m getting to it. The “bad” compelling event that caused the most suffering in the business community earlier this century was Sarbanes-Oxley. Tons of headaches, additional costs, consultants, filings—all the “stuff” that we didn’t have to do before. But what happened here was that as a result of needing to absolutely ensure that the data was clean and trusted, we then put a premium on companies that could provide us that assurance. Enter vendors like Informatica. See, it was worth it to stay with me right?
So INFA has been chugging along, and was long rumored to be a natural fit for any number of vendors, but particularly Hyperion, SAP, and Cognos, once Business Objects bought Acta (which INFA then sued the very next day for patent infringement and won, albeit a reduced verdict just recently), and IBM bought Ascential. But those acquisitions never came, for reasons we’ll leave to the side for now.
And now that Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, and IBM all have their own flavor of data integration and ETL capabilities, has Informatica missed the boat? Or can they maintain their relevance in a specialty market that’s now an ingrained part of a larger offering? In the “department of unfortunate timing” category, they had recently signed OEM agreements with SAP and Cognos, so were certainly making moves to stay independent and maintain their viability. But now, we need to wait and see what shakes out with the respective product roadmaps that everyone is waiting to see from these vendors before we have a clearer idea of what to expect.
The need for clean, timely, and trusted data is certainly not abating—if anything, it’s more of a need and requirement than ever. But increasingly, the question of whether I need the Cadillac of data integration, or a nice boring Toyota of ETL is one that customers will be asked to answer. And if the Toyota can be offered with the free rustrproofing, sunroof, surround sound speakers, and GPS that vendors like Oracle and MSFT can easily bundle in, might that not be enough for most people.
Or is data integration that important that only a Caddy will do?
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
But there’s a strong case to be made for allowing the CIO to move up from the back row of chairs against the wall and join the main table at these discussions. For while the CIO is often now reporting to the CFO in the wake of the regulatory and financial scandals of the early 2000’s, they now command a vast array of applications and infrastructure investments that give them a unique and highly desirable perspective on the technology being used within the organization, beyond whether responding to whether they’re an “Oracle or SQL shop.” Let’s discuss just a few of the key reasons for ensuring that you have a strong CFO-CIO partnership in your organizations today as you embrace performance management projects:
First, they can bring invaluable experience and lessons learned from past implementations. Whether it be an SAP or Siebel project, they can point out the pitfalls and lessons learned from what was likely a long and drawn out process, and ensure that in BI and performance management, this time around you don’t make the same mistakes.
Next, they can point out new trends and technologies that they’re seeing their peers use, or that are starting to be adopted, and give you the pro’s and con’s of adopting those technologies yourselves. For business people who are used to a Software as a Service model in many aspects of their lives, SaaS may not be a big deal—but there may be significant IT implications, limitations on how the application can be used or who can access it at any one time—and you need to ensure you’re aware of how a new technology would impact your use cases.
They know ROI. In part because in many cases their past IT projects have often failed to achieve the lofty ROI goals set by the project team at the time of purchase. They know the staff that it requires to implement such products, the hidden fees and resources often required, and the unforeseen pitfalls that may not affect your project directly, but that will impact the broader IT environment, and further complicate their lives, while slowing down your project. While we on the business side often tend to get fairly excited about the potential of the technology, they can give us the straight scoop.
Additionally, they know the products that are making the biggest impact on the market. We’ve all read about the frighteningly short tenures of CIO’s these days, which means that your own CIO has likely been around the block at time or two. This is a good thing for our purposes, because it means they’re likely highly networked and know many of the vendors you’re evaluating from their prior lives. They’re plugged into their own roundtables and networking groups, and they have the off-the-record conversations that senior executives have that will let you know if you’re on the right track with your project. After all, at the end of the day this IS an IT implementation—and their neck is also on the line to ensure that it’s a success. They’ll be the ones to let you know if the product you’re evaluating has had issues elsewhere, and what those issues might be.
Now, there are likely 100 more reasons to ensure that the CIO is part of the discussion as you get ready to fully embrace the promise of performance management, but hopefully these few, if not giving you pause, then perhaps help you ensure that the CIO is at least on the “TO” line of your next project evaluation meeting, and not just a “CC.”
Monday, December 03, 2007
In other news, the sun rises in the east, the Yankees are likely to spend big in the free agent market, BI vendors will push dashboards, the Patriots win again, and women place more importance on kissing in the relationship.
Stay tuned for other performance developments...or something
This just in, Portals may be the next frontie--wait, didn't someone already say that?
Cognos checks in with the performance guys...
BOBJ and SAP seal the deal...
Adobe and BOBJ seal THEIR deal...
Quick week last week, we'll look to make it up in these next 5 days...
Friday, November 30, 2007
So it's not entirely surprising, given this hypothesis, to see Business Objects announce yesterday that they're going to provide a free PIK (or portal integration kits to you BI rubes) from the XI platform and Crystal reporting roducts into the Microsoft SharePoint portal, affectionately known as MOSS (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server--catchy, isn't it?).
This integration is a great attempt to lower the threshold of the potential issue of having different collaboration and BI tools in-house, which is a smart move for both companies--Microsoft, continuing its partnering ways with all BI vendors and platforms, making MOSS a versatile and open portal platform that can work with everyone, and for Business Objects, they get to show their flexibility and independence as well, and can draft behind the momentum of MOSS in the marketplace.
Good times, good times...
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The Performance Guys are happy to report that our good friends at Cognos are now reaching out to us directly to keep us informed on all the great things happening with Cognos and IBM. According to the note from Cognos,
"The Performance Guys is a respected business
intelligence site and we’d like to help keep you and your readers
up-to-date on what’s happening at Cognos."
We appreciate the compliment. In the future we hope we can evolve to "highly respected," followed by "industry leading" and potentially over time, "market moving." We are all about performance.
Here are the latest updates from our friends at Cognos.
They have recently been acquired by IBM, press release is here.
Cognos dashboards continue to be good for performance. Whitepaper for download here.
Radio Cognos podcasts here. I confess that I need to interrogate this and report back. Comments welcome. Also need to start working on Performance Guys Radio.
Performance Guys to headline Cognos High Performance roadshow in Tulsa. Link here. Ok, the last one is not official Cognos material, but it could happen. And Tulsa is a beautiful place. The website says so.
We look forward to getting more updates from the Cognos team and commenting as and when appropriate. Or when we get a minute to comment.
In related news, Business Objects acquisition by SAP was approved by the EU. There is no comment as to whether the current unrest and riots in France are related.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
That we’ve never heard Darren actually sing his BI songs in person…
That we had Business Objects stock at the time of the SAP takeover…
That someone finally bought Longview…
That Microstrategy doesn’t care what you think…
That this guy is out there protecting us…
That we really have never seen a report do THIS before…
And of course, we’re thankful for traffic spikes, repeat visitors, increased cross-posting, more snarky anonymous comments, and most of all, for a lively discussion on all things BI, process, and performance management.
Enjoy the holiday weekend, we’ll be back and ready for a long session on the stairmaster on Monday morning…
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
One such area where the industry may pivot, surprisingly, is not even in the BI products themselves, but farther upstream, in the portal. As more and more functionality moves into the middleware layer of the IT infrastructure and collaboration becomes easier and more integrated into how we work, (with additions such as process engines to help us along, let’s say), attention is moving to how we access BI in addition to how we use BI (and what BI we actually use).
Several vendors have reported very robust sales for their portal products as the functionality in them improves and more and more content is funneled through this part of the technology stack than in the application layer. And it makes sense for employees. With the personalization and customization that you can do in the portal environment, it’s often times where you start you day. I would completely plead guilty to starting more than one BI demo logging into a dashboard or scorecard and seeing my metrics and goals and confidently stating that “as I log on in the morning, I can see that sales are down” or whatever drivel I would spout. But the truth is that’s a pretty unnatural act for most people. They don’t start the day in a scorecard, they start the day with email, and logging onto the company portal or intranet. Whether it’s company news, useful links, or internal HR information, intranets and portals are the place where most people start out online. And now more and more companies are putting the KPI’s, goals, metrics, and key tasks in their portal so that both individuals and teams can get the most up to date information in the place where they already spend a lot of their time.
And since the vast majority of the enterprise customer base now has some combination of Websphere, Netweaver, Fusion, or SharePoint, my sense is that you’re going to see a lot of new features and functionality head here; and once you’re hooked into a portal standard, it’s going to be far easier for the portal vendor to sell you on their other technology that’s already integrated into the portal than it’s going to be to connect another vendor into the portal.
You heard it here—trust the Portal, Luke…
- SAP would be a great acquisition for IBM. Among the reasons cited was the marriage of applications from SAP to IBM global services. Not mentioned is the perspective $5B+ overlap of BI and EPM applications. Not out of the realm of the possible.
- A mention that Oracle may be running out of big companies to buy, but buying a big services company is unlikely according to Jason Mayward from Credit Suisse Worldwide because "Oracle isn't interested in the relationship business." He said it, I didn't.
- MSFT could still be interested in Yahoo.
- A Joint venture between Salesforce.com and Workday, the SaaS ERP company built by the same great people who brought you PeopleSoft.
I suspect the consolidations will continue and the big will get bigger. What will be interesting is to see the next class of companies who deliver new value and innovation in the shadow of the larger players.
Their latest gambit focuses on publicly announcing their desire to raid talent from both Business Objects and Cognos at the grown up version of a career day, to be held on November 29th at Microstrategy offices in cities around the world.
If I’m Business Objects or Cognos, do I not just have my senior people stand outside the Microstrategy offices that night to see if I recognize anyone? Or do I not care if my people are going to this company?
Probably the latter I’d suspect—after all, if people want to leave and feel that they have a better opportunity elsewhere, you’ve likely already lost them. Plus, given all the activity around HR and personnel issues these days, if I'm smart I've already had private, 1:1 chats with all my key people to keep them around.
And while I’ve certainly received my fair share of emails and phone calls from friends and former colleagues in the past few months inquiring about potential openings, only Microstrategy would be bold enough to go public with their quest for the best talent. Personally I love the approach. As the saying goes, it's not bragging if you can do it--so let's see who they can peel off.
I'm just thankful on this Thanksgiving week that there's still have a vendor is keeping things interesting!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Granted Paul will have a more Microsoft-centric viewpoint on things, but given the fact that he's helping to market a $1B business, I think his viewpoint represents a more than credible voice to how performance management is not just a business issue, but goes to the heart of how an organization thinks about IT--is it just a cost center, or can it be more than that? I think Paul's blog will attempt to prove the latter point.
We can't help but feel a bit like Judge Smales and Danny in Caddyshack in welcoming Paul into the discussion in person, and not just in random anonymous comment postings (not that he would do that, we're just saying...)
Paul's blog is also listed over the right, be sure to visit often and add it to your bookmarks.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thanks for playing, Cognos...
8 Ball Corner Pocket, Cognos 8--get it? No? Neither do we...
Why does the number 3000 keep sticking with us? Oh yeah, this is why...
So be honest, who rushed the stage in San Diego to get a piece of Pat?
Oh, THERE are all the Cognos articles...
OK folks, that will do it for us this week. A pretty significant one in our little corner of the technology world we think. We need a drink...
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
As we probably all know, consultancies are generally not in the business of taking their talent off the streets for training unless there's a business model that shows that they'll get their investment back in spades. And Cap isn't the only one--the other big SI's are also investing heavily in the new Microsoft offering, albeit a bit more discretely than Mr. Short's organization.
Another data point from which to triangulate here--the price point of PerformancePoint Server. As has been known for over a year, the $200/user, $20k/server price is far, far below what the other vendors typically charge for similar, or even the same technology. And in the last year, many of the competitors to PerformancePoint have been associating price point with sophistication, scalability, and feature function set--the old "you get what you pay for" mantra. The thinking goes that if it only costs that much, there must not be a whole lot in it, or it's just for small and medium sized businesses.
But if it is, when why are there 3000 Cap Gemini consultants soon to be able to implement the product? Cap doesn't "do" 6 day engagements, they do 6 MONTH engagements. So Mr. Jones must see a business opportunity here somewhere...
From a technology perspective I’d strongly agree with Guy’s take on the strengths of the big four, IBM will also have a nice marriage of the Cognos BI functionality and their data management technology; master data management and ETL capabilities they acquired from Ascential, in March of 2005. For this performance guy, it was been a exciting to be in the middle of a market while its consolidating so rapidly. As the balls get re-racked and the new players chalk up their cues, it will certainly be interesting to see the new strategies that unfold and the direction.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
For the defense, I submit a great article from Jeffrey Pfeffer in the most recent, and regrettably, last issue of Business 2.0. In his article, "It's time to live up to family values," Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University's school of business, notes that a key issue for employers is the declining birth rate and the reality is that most employers don't practice what they preach in terms of work / life balance. Among the damning stats:
- 86 million Americans do not get a single sick day to care for a sick child
- The US is the only industrialized nation without a policy of paid leave for infant care
- Many employees don't get paid vacations
- The current policy of 12 weeks UNPAID family leave is resisted by many employers
- Many people and organizations would rather have sick people on the job than at home, at the expense of performance and productivity
Pfeffer notes that the over the last decade, companies on Fortune's list of top companies to work for (Fortune is the parent company of the newly departed B2.0) have notably improved work-family benefits. And those companies typically beat benchmarks for shareholder return. While this is not the entire story unto itself, the top line would seem to indicate that being good to employees and their families is good for the stock and good for performance. Is there a better indicator of strong performance management?
On the flip side of the coin, you have companies that focus on performance, not if the employee is in the office or has punched the time clock. A great example of this is Best Buy, also mentioned in the Business Week article, but with little detail. This is unfortunate, and likely due to the fact that their story runs counter to the slant of the article. Best Buy is on the forefront of the concept of performance impact with their concept of ROWE - Results Oriented Work Environment. The net of this is that performance is based on (get this) performance, not hours worked. Best Buy does not care if you are in the office, they only care if you get something done. The concept is covered in Business 2.0's April edition.
According the the article, more than 60% of the Minneapolis' based Best Buy's corporate workforce at the home office is now managed based on ROWE. If you factor out senior executive staff who are measured on things like EPS, the real percentage is even higher. According to the article, implementing a resulted oriented approach as improved productivity by 35%. You heard that right - the team is more than 1/3 more productive when measured based on what they produce, not what time they show up at the office.
According to a spokesperson in the article, the program "has forced managers and employees to be really clear about what needs to be accomplished". This is interesting for a variety of reasons including the revolutionary idea that performance should be judged on well defined goals, not the number of hours worked, whether you were at your desk promptly at 8am, or whether at performance review time your boss happens to like you.
Interestingly, Best Buy is has not only spun off a consulting organization to impart this success to other organizations, they are also experimenting with the ROWE concept for their retail stores. While there are some obvious hurdles, if they achieved 50% of the performance improvement in store that they have achieved at corporate, the results as measured in sales person productivity and by association, same store sales, would be extraordinary.
Also interesting to note that the companies called out as using software to track absenteeism in the BW article include Wal-Mart, whose contributions to performance management include low or no health benefits and locking 3rd shift cleaning employees in store, and Dell, who happens to have restated their earnings and fired their CEO for playing fast and loose with the numbers. If this smacks of a double standard, it should. Or at a minimum, it is reflective of a corporate culture and how performance is managed and incented or not.
In a performance oriented world, always-on world, it is my strong belief that if employers spend half as much time on employee care and incenting performance as they did trying to play defense against the small number of people who abuse the system, we would all be much farther ahead.
Friday, November 09, 2007
TMI people, TMI...
Pat gets all Wall Street on us...
Redmond gets its search on...
If a person doesn't show up are they really not there? Hmm...
Marketing? Performance Management? HA that's rich...
That will do it for us this week, thanks everyone for playing, and we'll be back with you bright and early Monday morning!
To paraphrase the gist of her entry, marketing is often censured when things are not going great, and not given nearly enough credit when they are. And to a certain extent, I suspect that will always be the case, as sales is always going to be as quick to blame when things are bad as they are quick to take the credit when things are good.
Additionally, it's also true that in many cases, the direct impact of marketing, or lack thereof, can be hard to attach to a given sale. Few are the clients who you'll actually get to say "we bought your product because of the nifty ad you ran in the Wall Street Journal last week."
But take marketing away, or cut the budget, and we give sales a convenient (and, truth be told, somewhat true) crutch to complain about the "lack of air cover vs. the competition," or the lack of leads in the pipeline (which, if my father, or perhaps George Castanza's father, were running things, would be solved by a simple "pick up the damn phone and call someone if you want a lead!") But I digress.
The point is that marketing often allows itself to fall into these defensive postures by often times not proving its worth or value to the business. And performance management can play a role in marketing just as it can in finance or operations or HR or any of the other disciplines.
Marketing departments are run by metrics--impressions, clicks, web hits, downloads, attendees, visitors--all these things are great first level KPI's that give us an indication of whether our marketing programs are on track. But they certainly don't tell the entire story or prove worth.
Actually that's in the next level down where you move from leads, to qualified leads, for instance. Was the person just visiting the website, or were they gathering information for a vendor evalutation they're about to do. How many of the webinar attendees have a current project budget? You get the picture.
Ultimately tracing the marketing activity through to the first sales call is a great measure to track marketing success for hi-tech companies, since advertising and brand building is not done on a huge scale. And while marketing can't make the customer actually sign on the dotted line, there are many metrics within everyone's business that give an indication of how well marketing is performing. Tracking these against goals and objectives linked to qualified deals is a sure fire way to ensure that you're getting the biggest bang for your buck on your marketing spend.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Whereas in the past we would likely get a raspy voicemail from a co-worker or underling informing us that they were too sick to some into the office, today the communication is much less personal when we get an email—we can’t judge the “fakeness” of the message or actually talk to the employee to see if they’re really sick, or just not coming into work. And as people learn how to game the system, it’s becoming more and more of an issue for companies today.
Well leave it to good old American ingenuity—where there’s a problem, there’s a solution, and where there’s a solution, there’s money to be made. Much like factoring companies swooped in to take over aged receivable and loan balances and stepping up collection efforts for manufacturers and banks, now companies are digging into employee absence data to look for trends and information that can help get people back to work and increase worker productivity within the organization. And a new cottage industry focused on the area of “absence management” has sprung up.
As Business Week magazine points out in its latest issue, employers are starting to say “enough’s enough” with employees not showing up. With the cost of absenteeism rising to over $74 Billion in lost wages and time, organizations are trying to pinpoint reasons why employees don’t show up from work, to take the dreaded “corrective action.” That’s where the new absence management vendors spring into action.
There are obviously a lot of different reasons that people don’t come to work, most of them in and of themselves benign and normal. So part of this effort is to find the cheaters and the people who are basically lying about their reasons for not working and take the appropriate action. But a larger effort is to find the reasons “why” people are most calling in sick or taking days off. By pinpointing these issues, companies can then take the corrective action needed to remedy the problem permanently. One example pointed out in the article referred to workers on a team with a boss they loathed. The underlying reason for the elevated absenteeism of people on his team? Quite simply, they didn’t want to work around him. So by analyzing this information and confidentially talking to members of the team, they HR staff was able to pinpoint the problem and take the necessary corrective action and get people back to work.
Which pretty much sums of the promise of performance management!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
The sub-prime mortgage mess has ended the tenure of Stan O 'Neal at Merrill Lynch, followed shortly by Chuck Prince at Citigroup. Turns out money was not free, as well as ability to manage risk as part of business strategy is critical. Among the things of some interest in this story from a performance point of view:
- We now have the answer to, "what does it take to get fired?" According to a recent account in Fortune, in O'Neal's case it is $8.5 billion write-down on sub-prime mortgages. O'Neal is categorized as "having no ability to manage risk". Sounds like a fine bit of understatement. A very hard fall for a well known executive who has graced all the major magazines as a strong leader and strong performer over a long career at ML.
- In Prince's case at Citi, the amount currently stands at $3B, a number widely believed to be conservative. The actual story will take some more time to figure out.
- The O'Neal story has additional legs for 3 reasons - he is black, so his departure, along with the departure of Richard Parsons at Time Warner, is seen in some quarters as cause for concern. He is expected to leave with a package in the neighborhood of $150M - go big and go home. Finally, he and the board appear to have sent him packing without a succession plan in place. This last is potentially more unbelievable than his exit package. Isn't the corporate governance 101 handbook with chapter on "executive gets hit by bus" part of standard b-school fare?
At last week’s CFO conference in Chicago (already heavily blogged on by Guy) Erik Brynjolfsson a Professor of Management at MIT Sloan School of Management, commented on how rapidly digital growth is occuring. In the next 13 months alone, the digital information produced will double that of all the previous years recorded, just take a look at The Expanding Digital Universe: A Forecast of Worldwide Information Growth Through 2010 Websites like facebook, myspace, and youtube are good examples of how our lives are becoming filled with new digital content at an alarming rate. The topic Brynjolfsson hit on in a business context was interesting to the PI conversation, as information becomes more abundant the ability to manage, navigate, and prioritize the information becomes scarce. This brings me back to the Wired article that speaks to how productive we are in our daily lives, and whether a portal that manages your stocks, RSS feeds, and online calendar actually makes you more productive. There are some interesting similarities between the business world as Business Intelligence enters a new trend around end user productivity and how the tools and technology provide the information we need to become more productive in our jobs. In the world of Personal Intelligence the same rules seem to apply.
Monday, November 05, 2007
The word of the day is process. The word for 2008 is Process Management. At the most recent Gartner IT Symposium in Orlando, the keynote laid out their 10 strategic technologies for 2008. The strategic technologies were defined as capable of disrupting IT, business or both, requiring strategic investment (Eg: real money), and Gartner is suggesting you don't want to be late or left behind. Check this eweek slide show for the overview. Gartner's top 10.
1. Green IT
2. Unified communications (seems like we have talked about this before)
3. BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT
4. Metadata management
5. Virtualization 2.0
6. Mash-ups and composite applications
7. Web platform and WOA
8. Computing Fabric
9. Real World Web
10. Social Software
Among the things of note is that business process shows up on the top of the software stack as a must have. Maybe this is response to the Moore's Law effect currently happening to analyst BPM forcasts - the size of supposed market doubles every 18 months according to Forrester, IDC and Gartner. Also interesting that Gartner makes reference to starting with process modeling for all classes of users with the idea that complete process management suites are required to bridge the gap between process as a discipline and whatever is happening in IT regarding SOA.
This topic is likely top of mind for many organizations as they look to unlock the next generation of repeatable performance based on process. Watch this space for more details.
Friday, November 02, 2007
A more, ahem, "analytical," view of the SAP/BOBJ deal...
HELLOOO RESTON WOOOOOOOOOOO--PerformancePoint Continues its world tour...
Pre-Occ-U-Pa-Tion, Pre-Occ-U-Pa-Ay-Shun, it's takingmyeyeofftheball...
That will do it for us this week, putting an APB for Pat, last seen living it up in the lap of luxury in the Tom Douglas Seattle restaurant empire...
As the CFO conference started, the moderator flashed some statistics on the screen from a recent study conducted by CFO magazine focusing on a few areas around technology. One of the statistics focused on whether or not CFO's felt that the technology they had in-house gave them a competitive advantage. Approximately 60% of the survey respondents said that they thought that technology "did" give them this advantage.
As Mr. Dallas started his speech, he seemed to question these results--querying the audience and asking them who had ERP, who had CRM, who had BI? And as everyone answered that they did, he asked the $64,000 question: "So if we all have the same technology, if we're all using SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, etc., how does that make us more competitive? We're all using the same products!"
Well that got the room buzzing, and certainly set the tone for the rest of his excellent keynote speech. But something struck me as ringing very true in his statement. If we all have the same technology, how CAN we make it so that we're more competitive and excel ahead of our competition?
The answer for me is crystal clear. You use the product better, smarter, you find ways to make your people more productive and make the technology work for them. In their jobs, in their roles, in their processes. The reason that so many technology projects fail is because we ask our teams and employees to change the way they work to fit the product. What results is a huge spike in usage of the product right after training, followed by the "blue" (if you're typical) or "green" (if you're lucky) ski slope of erosion of usage as people drift away from the product or leave the department, and return to what they were previously using. And the technology hasn't helped anyone.
But by fitting the technology into the way your company works, and focusing on what makes your workers more productive with the same technology that your competition is using, that's where the difference lies between #1 and #2. The game isn't won in the center--everyone has the technology.
No, as Mr. Dallas reminded us so capably, the game is won at the margins--and a focus on making the technology work for you, vs. you working for the technology--that's where the battle is being fought today.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
The keynotes are worth a few posts here, as they were very substantial and insightful, particularly right out of the gate, with the CIO of Medtronic, James Dallas, who spoke about the need of IT and Finance to start speaking the same language if they want to truly move the business forward together.
Mr. Dallas started his career in finance, and had a role in an Atlanta-based bank in the cost accounting side of the house when he started getting more involved with IT projects, and thought he could become the conduit between IT and Finance to help them understand each other and where they were both coming from. He's kept to that creed over the years, to the point where he mentioned that the entire IT staff at Medtronic is enrolled in a "finance competency" course (my words, not his), so they can learn "the language of the business." Seems like an excellent idea to me, I wish more groups would go forward with this.
However, one of his slides was particularly insightful in terms of getting these type of finance/IT projects off the ground--and that is, to keep in mind the company culture before imposing new technology on your workers. He took this comment, "My culture will eat your strategy for lunch" from a colleague in his company, who made the comment in response to the proposal of a new stratetic project within the organization.
And while it's humorous, it's also a often overlooked aspect of performance management projects. The technology can look great, do great things, even let you get to the "leading edge" of data access, but if it doesn't fit in with your people, it will fail. We've all seen the surveys and graphs charting new software usage, where it climbs during the pilot phase and peaks the weeks after training, only to fall back down to the 15-20% of the population who regulalry use the product or have an acute need for it.
Mr. Dallas' point is that we need to consider how our people use information to get them through their day--and give them the tools that help them do their job better. In other words, understand the culture of your teams, and make the technology work for how they do their jobs--not the other way around.
Sage advice that we'd all do well to heed as we think about blanketing the world with our respective applications!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
“It’s the total Microsoft solution, not just the BI/PM products... While some competitors will dismiss Microsoft products as not scalable or lacking functionality, that assessment is short-sighted.”
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