Continuing the trend of rapid consolidation in the business performance solutions (BPS) space, Cognos announced a definitive agreement to acquire Applix on Sept. 5. Cognos is positioning the acquisition as an extension of its financial performance management capability. The combination is an interesting contrast of styles:
The announcment that Yahoo is buying ad network Blue Lithium comes at a ponderous time for me since I'm just wrapping up the research for Forrester's forecast of Interactive Marketing Spending and (report is due Sept 28). Per that research, I'm finding that indeed interactive budgets are on their way up with marketers (still) most interested in search and (newly interested in) online video. Display ads continue to be a part of almost all online campaigns and yet no marketer has much to say about them. Marketers and vendors alike have commented that display ads as a medium have undersold themselves since the early 2000s. Basically display ads have capabilities that no marketer knows/cares about. Or that has not yet been fully exploited.
Today Cognos announced its intention to acquire Applix, Inc for a cash tender offer of $17.87 per share, or approximately $339 million.
This acquisition is primarily about performance management, and I quote my colleague, Paul Hamerman: “This continues a trend of rapid consolidation in the business performance solutions space, following acquisitions of pure plays by larger BI and ERP vendors. Applix has been a stellar performer as a flexible platform for customers to rapidly implement applications for planning, budgeting, forecasting and business performance analytics. Although Cognos has been a leader in performance management solutions, the Applix technology gives it an opportunity to refresh its offerings and more aggressively sell to the midmarket.”
The BI side of this acquisition is all about TM1 OLAP technology. Cognos’s Powerplay OLAP product has been trailing Microsoft SQLServer Analysis Services and Hyperion (recently acquired by Oracle) Essbase in market adoption. With TM1, a memory-based OLAP cube, Cognos achieves several objectives:
Leapfrogs Microsoft and Oracle with one of the fastest read/write OLAP technologies on the market.
Provides an enterprise grade in-memory OLAP alternative to fast-growing and increasingly popular QlikTech, which is more of a departmental solution.
Provides additional midmarket entry points for Cognos
The future of the rest of the Applix BI products — reporting, querying, dashboards, and data integration — is quite murky. Cognos will face the same challenge as Oracle now does with the Hyperion acquisition: Establishing a strategy and a road map of overlapping product portfolio integration or sunsetting/retirement.
B2B marketers: RainToday.com asked me to participate in authoring an ebook about the one piece of advice marketers simply cannot generate leads without.
This 36-page report was published today and includes advice from not only yours truly, but also Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, Suzanne Lowe, author of Marketplace Masters - How Professional Services Firms Compete to Win, and Ardath Albee, B2B Marketing Strategist, Marketing Interactions (with whom I've played blog-tag previously.)
I'm right in the middle of researching Forrester's Interactive Marketing Forecast -- our big sizing report which forecasts spending in different interactive channels five years into the future. In addition to leveraging a quantitative study of marketers (which some of you helped with -- thanks!), I'm also conducting a series of interviews with media providers, vendors, agencies and interactive marketing experts to help me prioritize trends and build out an accurate market sizing.
Last week as part of my research I spoke to Jim Nail, ex-Forrester analyst and current CMO of TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony and Jeff Lanctot, VP of Media and Client Services for Avenue A/Razorfish. Both independently mentioned a key theme defining the future of interactive marketing which I've been noodling on since my conversations with them. I'm paraphrasing a bit, but the theme is that of immersive marketing -- that is the idea of creating marketing programs that:
Create a cohesive and all-encompassing experience across any channel where the customer is.
Here’s a question that crops up more and more frequently. Forrester B2B marketing clients want to know “What are the average conversion rates for leads to opportunities and opportunities to sales in......?” You can fill in the blank with:
Industry: high tech, financial services, healthcare etc. Tactic: email marketing, paid search placement, direct mail postcards, etc. Size: small businesses, enterprises, firms over $250M in revenue, etc. Product type: durable, consumer, high technology, software, etc. Channel: direct sales, telesales, distributors, resellers, etc.
And create a tremendous array of opportunities to research. Opportunities so vast it boggles my mind, and makes me wonder how Forrester might provide this kind of information on a reliable, relevant basis at minimum cost to ourselves and our clients.
In the spirit of exploring this dilemma further, I’d like to hear from our blog readers – B2B in particular – on these two questions:
1) What specific sources of information have you found for these types of benchmarks? (Go ahead and mention competitors, you won’t hurt my feelings…) And how detailed, or reliable, do these sources need to be?
When Forrester first published the report The Information Workplace Will Redefine The World Of Work At Last in June of 2005, we described the Information Workplace as contextual, role-based, seamless, guided, visual, and multimodal. We included some Web 2.0 technologies like blogs and wikis in our discussion about the elements of the Information Workplace. But the impact Web 2.0 will have on the way people work goes way beyond new collaboration tools. With Web 2.0:
I get many questions on dashboards and scorecards and the role these tools play in BI (Business Intelligence). If we use Forrester’s definition of BI — a set of methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies that transform raw data into meaningful and useful information — then we see that dashboards are just the tip of the BI iceberg. One cannot build “just a dashboard”, without considering, architecting and implementing many other necessary BI layers and components such as data integration (ETL, data quality, etc), analytics (OLAP), metrics management, and many supporting components such as collaboration, knowledge management, metadata and master data management, and others. So that’s the first key takeaway: do not be fooled by 2nd tier dashboard vendor claims that one can implement an enterprise wide dashboard easily and inexpensively.
Let’s start with definitions, since I see the terms dashboards and scorecards used interchangeably:
Dashboards are just one style of interactive user interface, designed to deliver historical, current, and predictive information typically represented by key performance indicators (KPIs) using visual cues to focus user attention on important conditions, trends and exceptions.
Scorecards are a type of a dashboard which link KPIs to goals, objectives and strategies. Many scorecards follow a certain methodology, such as Balanced Scorecard, Six Sigma, Capability Maturity Models, etc.
Other types of dashboards include Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) dashboards and visualizations of data / text mining operations.
I've had a number of recent client inquiries about search engine optimization (SEO), so I thought it would be worth sharing some of the best practices I've assembled.
First off, just a little color on the role SEO is currently playing in the search marketing landscape. I always recommend investing in SEO before paid search because it: 1) http://www.forrester.com/Research/Document/0,7211,39441,00.html one-time investment (although you'll have some cost for ongoing maintenance of your site once you get it optimized) that continues to pay off for years and 2) It takes a few months to get your site optimized and start seeing results. So get your SEO started, buy some paid search ads to drive immediate traffic and test keywords, and in 6 months or so, you should have enough data and experience to have some pretty good integrated SEO/SEM programs running together.
There’s tug of war going on in the world of BI. On the one hand we have IT whose mission it is to manage and protect enterprise information assets, and on the other side there are end users who just want the data when they want it, and in the shape and form that they want it, without any limitations.
Traditional, mainstream BI vendors have catered primarily to IT target audience. These vendors will disagree, but take one look at their complex architectures, multiple layers and components, integration and support requirements, and you can’t help but agree that these are IT tools that can be used to create end user applications.
On the other hand I am seeing am emergence of smaller BI vendors that cater directly to the end users. They pitch simplicity, flexibility and little or no reliance on IT. True, these vendors do not have large enterprise functions like metadata, semantic layers, robust security and scalability, so I do not see them as enterprise-level, but rather departmental, focused solutions. Yet, the appeal to end users is undeniable.
Finding a compromise – satisfying all typical IT requirements, while empowering the end users - remains an elusive goal, and hence an opportunity for all BI vendors.