Kofax Buys Singularity: Investing In The Growing BPM And Dynamic Case Management Markets

Craig Le Clair

Kofax is the latest investor in the BPM business (and for Kofax, this means capture-driven BPM). What Kofax has envisioned for more than a year is now reality. The first step will no doubt be to link the Singularity BPM platform with the capture process and lift data that is then filtered and cleansed and move it to straight-through processes. This provides a lighter-weight approach; for some processes, this will bypass the packaged application or ECM platform. Yet more automation leads to more challenging exceptions — and the more we move to STP, the more those exceptions require case management handling and even more serious human intervention. That’s where Singularity’s case management platform will help; Singularity was a Leader in the 2011 Forrester Wave™ for dynamic case management solutions. Overall, there is a lot to like here. Rather then partnering for BPM, building from within, or trying to leverage 170 systems more fit to purpose workflow, this investment shows that Kofax understands that the real customer value is in process transformation rather than in supporting tasks like capture or document management. More tactically, Singularity fits well with existing Kofax SharePoint solutions. But the real synergy is around distribution: Singularity, as a private company based in Ireland with $15 million in annual revenues, suffered from poor recognition in the bigger markets. Now the 700-plus Kofax partners around the world could change that, and quickly, although not all of the partners may be up to the task. Kofax’s recent investment in MobiFlex, which has mobile technology for capturing PDFs and rich media, can also be tied to capture and now case management apps. Overall, there are many positives to this, and I don’t see a lot of conflict with the recent

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What's On The Horizon Of IBM's 'Smarter Planet'

Chris Mines

I spent some of this week at IBM's annual Connect analyst event, a cornerstone for understanding Big Blue's direction from the perspective of its fastest-growing and most profitable division.

And the direction is pretty clear: behind-the-scenes product integration is enabling tighter marketing and sales integration across what have been separate brands (Lotus, Tivoli, Cognos, etc.) in the software portfolio. Now the emphasis is on capabilities, and on tuning or packaging those capabilities into industry-oriented bundles such as "social business" or "smarter commerce."

IBM's Smarter Planet initiative is starting to have a positive impact in its software business. For the first couple of years since launch, Smarter Planet was principally a door-opener for IBM's business consulting teams, creating interest among clients in how IBM could help assess and improve business performance.

As those engagements have progressed and multiplied, the consulting organization has created "patterns" across them, problems that they run into repeatedly in a particular industry or geography. Those patterns are now being put into code for industry-specific solutions, for APIs that other software vendors can hook into, and other software artifacts. So Smarter Planet is starting to drive opportunity and revenue for the software group as well as consulting services.

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SAP Plans To Acquire SuccessFactors: A Major Move In The Talent Management Field

Claire Schooley

ERP vendors are showing strong interest in the HRM SaaS market. They are either attempting to build a solution (as Oracle is doing with Fusion) or looking to acquire HRM functionality (as SAP is about to do with SuccessFactors). Talent applications — including offerings like performance, succession, and learning — are not easy to build. The niche players have been laser-focused for years on building these solutions or integrating acquisitions, and generally they have done a good job. Now we see other vendors that want this functionality buying up these niche players to offer a complete end-to-end HRM solution. The HRM market is hot! My colleague Paul Hamerman and I have authored research that shows performance growing faster — at 16.5% — than any other HRM segment (HRM Solutions: Traditional Models Clash With Next Generation Processes And Technology). Executives know that having highly skilled employees who know the business and can execute well on strategy is critical to business growth.

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Nokia Siemens Networks Announces Radical Strategy Review

Dan Bieler

Nokia Seimens Networks’ top management has finally pulled the emergency brakes, after months of unsuccessful attempts to find a buyer. Going forward, NSN will focus on mobile network infrastructure and the services market. All other areas are non-core and subject to disposal. We estimate that about two-thirds of NSN’s current portfolio will remain in this new focus area. NSN will retain an attractive product and services portfolio and innovative solutions, as for instance its Liquid Net offering. However, some elements, like convergence offerings, will be difficult to pursue credibly in the future.

In our view, the new focus NSN is taking is right:

  • NSN is focusing on growth segments of the infrastructure market. NSN aims to provide the most efficient mobile networks (including network outsourcing and sharing) to extract maximum value for telcos’ operations by developing intelligent network solutions and boost customer experience management.
  • NSN will generate large savings from operating expenses and production overheads. NSN targets savings of €1 billion annually by the end of 2013. NSN tries to achieve this goal be focusing on organizational streamlining, real estate, information technology, product and service procurement costs, G&A, and supplier consolidation. Despite good revenue growth in recent quarters, NSN’s revenues per employee remain well below that of Ericsson’s in 2010 and even lags Huawei’s. NSN’s plans to reduce its global workforce by 17,000, or 23%, will go some way to address this imbalance.
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Sound The Alarm For Tech Vendors: The European Titanic Has Already Hit The Iceberg

Andrew Bartels

Neither The Economist magazine nor the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is known for being alarmist. So one pays attention when The Economist in the lead item ("Is this really the end?"; see also "The euro: Beware of falling masonry") in its November 26 issue stated: "The chances of the euro zone being smashed apart have risen alarmingly, thanks to financial panic, a rapidly weakening economic outlook and pigheaded brinkmanship." The OECD had similar strong words of concern in its press release ("OECD calls for urgent action to boost ailing global economy") announcing its latest "Economic Outlook": "Decisive policies must be urgently put in place to stop the euro area sovereign debt crisis from spreading and to put weakening global activity back on track."

For me, the economies of the European Union (EU) have disturbing similarities to the ocean liner RMS Titanic as it steamed across the Atlantic on that fateful trip in 1912. From the start when Greek debt crisis surfaced in early 2010, the leaders of the EU have consistently done too little, too late to keep the problem contained and manageable. The steps that could have been taken to change course were not taken. Instead, the EU ocean liner stayed on its course, right into the path of an iceberg of financial panic.

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How To Get Beyond Alignment

Nigel Fenwick
 

It’s the perennial issue for many CIOs and often the No. 1 challenge for new CIOs: “How do I align IT with the business?” And while this is perhaps the most important challenge for IT groups struggling with a bad reputation across the business, it’s certainly not the most important challenge for IT groups with a solid track record of success. For these teams, the challenge is how to move beyond alignment.

In the report Beyond Alignment: BT Strategic Planning, I highlight how critical it is for IT to help formulate business strategy. The research suggests that how a firm develops and manages business strategy is pivotal to the question of how IT can move beyond alignment. Unfortunately, there are a number of challenges with this:

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Some Thoughts On Digital Strategy And The Four Technologies Driving It

Ted Schadler

I've been hearing a lot about digital strategy and digital transformation lately. (Is that what they call a tech meme?) To my ears, it sounds like a good way to get technology people and business people together to answer four important technology questions: 

1. How do I serve customers and employees on the mobile device of their choice? This one becomes even more important as smartphone and tablet adoption soars. In the US, we at Forrester expect based on our surveys that over a third of smartphones are and will be used for work and over half of tablets will be, too. Consumerization rules this roost.

What it means: Mobile devices are yet another digital touchpoint for marketing, sales, service, and product teams to master. But of course multi-touchpoint means that things must work well on all digital devices and channels: mobile, Web, social, and video.

2. How do I harness social technology for the good of customers and business productivity? IBM and Salesforce.com are betting big that social business will drive technology investment. And of course it will, though not without a fair amount of soul searching into the real sources of value on the part of business and technology people.

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The Tech Market Gives Small Thanks — "It Coulda Been Worse"

Andrew Bartels

The day before Thanksgiving is a good point to pause and give thanks for the recent news in the tech market, before we give thanks for our personal blessings with our families and friends tomorrow.  So, amidst the glum news about the ongoing European debt crisis that is grinding growth to a standstill, the failure of the congressional supercommittee to make any progress on US budget deficits or stimulus, and the crashing stock markets, here are some things that tech vendors can be thankful for.

  1. US economy is still growing.  The revised real GDP growth rate for Q3 2011 was 2%, down from the preliminary report of 2.5% (Gross Domestic Product, 3rd Quarter 2011 [second estimate]).  That's not much growth, but at least it is growth.  And the report on "Personal Income and Outlays: October 2011" released this morning showed a 0.4% increase in October from September (5% at an annualized rate), with consumer spending up by 0.1% (1% annualized).  So, the fourth quarter began with some good momentum for consumer spending. 
  2. The US tech market is still growing — better than the government data indicates.  The Bureau of Economic Analysis data on business investment in information technology was revised downward from the preliminary release, with total IT investment growing by just 3.3%.  However, computer equipment grew by 10.6% and software by 6%, with software doing even better if we make adjustments to exclude the "own account" software that is created by firms for their own use.  The bad news was that communications equipment investment declined by 13.2%. 
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T-Systems’ Analyst Summit 2011: Getting Past A Lost Year

Dan Bieler

T-Systems’ Analyst Summit 2011 in Frankfurt was dominated by updates on the progress the company made regarding its restructuring projects. As a result of these efforts, T-Systems has created the basis to become a more efficient and agile ICT services provider going forward. Still, in our view, the period between mid-2010 to mid-2011 was a lost year for T-Systems — despite the obvious progress T-Systems made in addressing its past challenges.

In some respects, T-Systems had become a victim of its own success in 2009 and 2010. T-Systems was clearly overwhelmed by its multibillion deals (with clients including Linde, BP, Shell, E.ON, MAN, Continental, etc). Delivery capacities were stretched to the limit, manifesting in serious transition and transformation challenges. T-Systems was forced to allocate more capacities to big deals, thus depressing margins to just over 2% in Q3 2011 (see chart below). T-Systems still aims to reach the peer-group average EBIT margin.

Source: company reports

About a year ago, T-Systems began to restructure its entire operations in a mammoth project, effectively redrawing the entire organisational structure and reshuffling the top management team, except for the CEO and CFO. The Analyst Summit provided some insights that these efforts are beginning to bear fruit:

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Update On Cisco's Collaboration Strategy

Philipp Karcher

Special thanks to Art Schoeller, TJ Keitt, Henry Dewing, and Ted Schadler for their input

I went to Cisco's Collaboration Summit last week to hear the latest from the various product teams and some of their marquee customers. Much of the story remains the same: Cisco continues to dominate in video and web conferencing; it is taking strong steps in the right direction but still has a lot of work ahead to deliver a cohesive collaboration platform with the likes of Microsoft, IBM, and Google:

  • Video continues to be a key differentiator. Cisco is expanding its foothold in video at different ends of the market. Highlights from the conference include Telepresence Conductor, a component that optimizes the video traffic in large enterprises with multiple MCUs; and Callway, a hosted service for SMBs that don't want to invest in dedicated infrastructure. The most interesting development to me is the redesigned Jabber client, Cisco's push to compete with Lync. SVP for Telepresence OJ Winge described it to me as a combination of the best technologies from Cisco's applications for IM (Jabber), video (Movi), and voice. The recently released Jabber SDK also allows developers to enable Jabber IM, presence, voice, web conferencing -- and in the future, video -- in web applications like Gmail or SAP.
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