Category Archives: Lens360

Fear and Ignorance, Finance Leaders, and Cloud Hesitancy

What’s stopping the largest percentage of enterprise leaders, including Finance executives, from trusting even some of their systems and data to Cloud providers?

Ignorance-based fear.

December’s Saugatuck survey on Cloud and Finance, which has provided fodder for a terrific series of strategic reports, Strategic Perspectives, blog posts, and other insights published for and used by Saugatuck’s clients, included hundreds of open-ended responses regarding current and expected Finance IT systems and infrastructures. And while an encouraging plurality of survey participants indicated that they are moving, typically judiciously, toward using more and more Cloud for Finance, more than 20 percent of those writing in responses still expressed security-related concerns as their primary reasons for not even considering Cloud-based Finance systems.

The ones that stood out included the following:

  • “Every time our financial managers look at ‘the cloud,’ they only see that the information is outside our firewall and therefore perusable by anyone and everyone. Only completely public information will ever be stored off-site or outside of our company’s direct control.” – Controller, Healthcare, Upper-midsize company
  • “We are concerned about cloud security and competitors being able to access cloud information.” – Finance Director, Business / Professional Services, Midsize
  • “We have a fear of using the cloud based on possible hacking and fraud capabilities. Until it’s a proven technology we will keep everything in-house.” – VP Finance, Financial Services, Large
  • “Organizationally, we are evaluating the movement towards cloud-based computing, and are aware of the potential cost savings, but are tempered by the continuing risk of breaches.” – Director of IT, Healthcare, Upper-midsize company

First, let me vent in a blunt manner, then I’ll get to the more reasoned content.

Positions such as those expressed above border on willful ignorance. They are based almost entirely on perception, opinion, and Continue reading

AribaLIVE 2015 – The Complex Reality of Networked Business Commerce

This year’s AribaLIVE event opened Wednesday with a performance by Ariba client Cirque du Soleil, complete with steampunk-style animated sky-sailing ships, stage smoke, haunting music, dramatic narration, and acrobatics. As I tweeted from the event:

#VoyageofDiscovery theme w/Cirque du Soleil opening #AribaLIVE. Smoke, acrobatics, complexity, fog. Perfect allegory for #Finance today

Anchored by Ariba SVP and CMO Tim Minahan, Wednesday’s opening session – and the second-day opener as well – was replete with stories of real-world business improvement through innovative applications of spend-management solutions. Experiences ranged from AIG finding the potential to save $70M simply by formalizing procurement to utilizing supply-chain sourcing management to reduce and hopefully end modern slavery. In sum, Ariba did more than one would think possible to make some of the most mundane aspects of Finance management – e.g., procurement, spending, sourcing, invoicing, payment – compelling.

What was most compelling for me was first, the increasingly interactive, and increasingly complex, networked nature of these routine-yet-critical aspects of Finance and commerce; and second, Ariba’s grasp of the need to both enable and leverage that increasing complexity to improve business for its clients and for itself via the Ariba Business Network concept and model.

For Ariba, to paraphrase both Scott McNealy and Bob Metcalfe, “The network is the business.” And everything about AribaLIVE 2015 themes, sessions, and discussions was built around The Network: how to use it, link with it, take Continue reading

CFOs and Cloud Caution – What is the Reality?

Saugatuck recently concluded a series of conversations with CFOs from all types and sizes of firms in the U.S., Western Europe, the Pacific Rim countries, and mainland Asia. Some of what was discussed tests the positions developed from our 2014 Cloud Finance study; more of the discussions drilled deeper into the changing roles of Finance and the CFO. An in-depth report that integrates our previous research with the shifting and evolving roles and needs of CFOs and Finance organizations will be published for Saugatuck clients later in April or May 2015.

A new Strategic Perspective published for Saugatuck research clients examines a core issue regarding CFOs and Cloud adoption: namely, is Finance adoption and use of Cloud-based systems lagging behind most other areas of the enterprise because CFOs are too cautious?

First, we need to establish whether Finance really is “behind” other areas of enterprise business in overall Cloud adoption and use.

Figure 1: Finance and Cloud – Not Applying Themselves?

1555MKT_figure1

Source: Saugatuck Technology Inc. Continue reading

API with Analytics Yet?

The importance of the API economy has been apparent for several years, and API availability and use is growing exponentially. To date, this growth has been fueled by mobility, with APIs providing a mechanism for enabling tiny apps on mobile devices to perform important tasks by invoking the capability of hosted applications. At the same time, Big Data and Advanced Analytics have been developing steadily and moving toward direct real-time integration with business processes. Analytics APIs, particularly the new machine-learning driven Predictive APIs (PAPIs), can provide the glue to bring Analytics and processes together.

Analytics APIs offer the possibility of real time access to analytics inserted directly into composite applications. This offers great possibilities for enhancement of business processes, but it also opens the possibility of combining multiple simultaneous streams of analysis on an ad-hoc basis, creating a variable and scalable artificial intelligence.

Predictive APIs are already here and are being provided by major vendors and startups alike. This includes Microsoft, which provides Azure machine learning, and Google, which provides its Prediction API currently in a beta. Emerging providers taking revolutionary steps in this area include BigML, Swift API, Datagami, GraphLab, Apigee Insights, Openscoring.io, Intuitics, Zementis, Predixion, PredictionIO, H2O, Yottamine, Lattice, Futurelytics, and Lumiata. As with many other technologies in the IT sector, a lot of the innovation is happening with startups. In this case, however, startups greatly expand their capabilities of the underlying technology by opening up a wider range of APIs for assembly to handle an ever-increasing range of data and outcomes. Continue reading

Time to Rethink the “Data Center” Concept – and the Role of “IT?”

On the one hand, the IT function and organization for most firms has never been more about “data.” Big Data, data mining, advanced analytics, predictive analytics, real-time analytics, and so on rule media reports, analyst insights, event titles, the blogosphere, and provider announcements. The growth of Digital Business both feeds, and feed off of, data and more data. What used to be primarily a focus on software and infrastructure, many firms now see data and content providing their greatest growth.

On the other hand, data and its processing are every day less and less centered. It’s easy to see the proliferation of Cloud-based function-, application-, and group-specific analytics that accompany the parallel proliferation of Cloud-based applications and attendant data stores. And meanwhile, CIOs all over the globe are already telling us that because they can leverage Cloud capabilities, they want to never build another data center.

This has engendered some interesting discussions with the Saugatuck team and with our clients as well. If we as business and IT leaders are more and more about “data” every day, while we actively pursue non-centered uses, locations, and processing for that data, what do we do with the concept of the “data center?”

The data center concept grew because of traditional, centralized IT organizations, infrastructures, and policies that insisted that data was a valuable resource that therefore must be centrally held, controlled, processed, and secured. This version of reality became moot after the onslaught of desktop and portable computing, and has become even less meaningful to many in a Cloud-first IT and Continue reading

UPDATED: FinancialForce.com – Prospering in the Salesforce Ecosystem

As part of our ongoing “Finance in the Cloud” Series, Saugatuck recently conferenced with executives from FinancialForce.com to learn more about the FinancialForce Cloud ERP / Finance solutions, their market reception, future plans for enhancement and how FinancialForce views “Finance in the Cloud.”

NOTE: This Lens360 blog post was originally published on December 16, 2014. See March 26, 2015 Business Update in the Postscript section below.

Launched in 2009 as a joint venture between UNIT4, a Dutch enterprise software company, and salesforce.com, FinancialForce was founded to enable real-time financial management built on salesforce.com’s technology platform, Force.com. The following year FinancialForce added Professional Services Automation, based on a solution acquired from Appirio. Eighteen months ago, FinancialForce made two more key acquisitions, Less Software (supply chain management) and Vana Workforce (human capital management). In early 2014, it announced its FinancialForce ERP – further repositioning itself as a unified back-office suite provider.

It has been quite a journey for FinancialForce. According to Continue reading

iPaaS, MDM, and API Management Solidify Dell Boomi Platform

Dell has just announced an expansion of its Boomi line which broadens its platform from its integration (iPaaS) and Master Data Management (MDM) center, out to include a complete API creation and management suite. The new suite enables both developers and savvy business users the ability to create, modify, publish, and monitor both SOAP and REST APIs.

While Dell is not the first to bring integration and API Management together, they are the first to bring MDM into the mix – and this combination is likely to prove very powerful, as shifts in IT overall are pushing more and more toward loosely-coupled data as well as services.  As we wrote in July 2014 in our Lens360 post, Master Data Management and the Internet of Things:

As the Internet of Things grows, and the complexity of systems dependent on sensor data continues to increase, we see major opportunity for IT to add new value through Master Data Management (MDM) programs. While recently the focus of MDM has often been in maintaining a single view of the customer across multiple cloud and on premises systems (such as CRM, order management, ecommerce, mobile, etc), we expect that the challenges in maintaining context around sensor data to be a primary driver of new MDM initiatives going forward.

It is clear now that the opportunity for MDM is beyond any one category of data, whether it be sales, HR, sensor, IoT, or Mobile, to name a few. With the combination of MDM and data integration, Boomi was already well positioned to help connect existing applications. By adding in API Management, they can now become an invaluable tool for application and service modernization. Developers will be able to create new services and APIs while managing data governance, even as these services become increasingly distributed. Continue reading

CMO/CIO Panel – Winning in a Data Rich World (CBS14)

On November 12th, 2014, Saugatuck Technology held its 4th annual Cloud Business Summit at the Yale Club of New York City. As with prior Summits, our event brought together more than 100 large-enterprise CIOs, CTOs and senior business, marketing and finance leaders – to explore how they can and are realizing value from the Cloud. The key focus this year was the significant impact that Cloud is having in shaping core business strategy, as we evolve into the era of Digital Business.

In a featured CMO / CIO panel entitled “Winning in a Data Rich World, Saugatuck’s Founder and CEO Bill McNee spoke with three senior Marketing and IT leaders – all from diverse organizations – including Steve Mann, CMO at LexisNexis Research Solutions, Reuben Hendell, then Managing Partner at Barrytown Group (now CEO of BrandShop Digital Commerce), Joe Fuller, CIO at Dominion Enterprises.

The panel focused on how Cloud-based data is at the center of today’s digital marketing revolution, and at the core of the powerful rise of predictive analytics supporting it. But with ever exploding volumes of data, from Continue reading

Data Lake and the Data Lakers

Within just a few years, Big Data has become a driving force in enterprise IT, with projects springing up in every imaginable area of endeavor. It will drive processes as well as aiding in innumerable areas of information processing and discovery. But integrating Big Data with current infrastructure is problematic. To date, projects remain relatively discrete and can be based upon limited integration with data warehouses or separate operational data stores. But a more centralized and better-integrated solution is required as a basis for capitalizing on wide-ranging new opportunities. An important concept which is currently being developed is the “Data Lake,” which provides a repository for gigantic volumes of unstructured data in native format and may also include structured data to feed data warehouses. Continue reading

CFO/CIO Panel – Framing Digital Business Success (CBS14)

On November 12th, 2014, Saugatuck Technology held its 4th annual Cloud Business Summit at the Yale Club of New York City. As with prior Summits, our event brought together more than 100 large-enterprise CIOs, CTOs and senior business, marketing and finance leaders – to explore how they can and are realizing value from the Cloud. The key focus this year was the significant impact that Cloud is having in shaping core business strategy, as we evolve into the era of Digital Business.

In a featured CFO / CIO panel entitled “Framing Digital Business Success,” Saugatuck’s Founder and CEO Bill McNee spoke with four senior Finance and IT leaders – all from diverse organizations – including Vinay Mehra, CFO at WGBH, Pat Milano, CFO at McGraw Hill Education, Harpreet Grewal, CFO at Constant Contact, Scott Henry, EVP and CTO at Madison Square Garden.

The panel focused on how today’s Finance leaders are accelerating their adoption of Cloud-based accounting solutions as well as advanced “big data” analytics. But Finance is also at the center of a rethinking of business, technology and operating models brought Continue reading