Despite the challenging global economic conditions this year has been marked by exciting developments in business software. Nascent technologies such as social networking tools, big data, mobile computing and cloud computing are redefining the business landscape and are set to drive a new era in computing, business opportunity and profitability.
So I wanted to set out some of the software vendors who have impressed FSN this year through their vision and innovation in their respective segments of the market.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Infor has continued to be a shining light in what has otherwise been a rather dull ERP segment. One of our most popular articles of the year was, “Can ERP systems look beautiful?”. This captured the notion that in an era of social business, the ‘user interface’ and the way that users interact with each other and external stakeholder could be radically different and appealing. Infor have been masters at explaining the vision but more importantly are actually delivering it through their applications.
But they are not alone. Oracle worked with FSN to create a hugely popular white paper “Social Media at the Tipping Point: Why CFOs Must Get ‘Social’.” This thought provoking piece unveils the internal and external opportunities for process improvement and competitiveness that could be secured by harnessing social networking tools. But calculating an ROI remains a challenge.
Financials in the Cloud
We have been impressed by the professionalism and growth of FinancialForce.com – a company that is part of the UNIT4 stable (think Agresso and CODA). FinancialForce, based on the Force.com platform, popularised by SalesForce CRM, points the way forward to a new way of doing business, leveraging all of the advantages of the Cloud combined with the strength of a well known ecosystem of compatible applications. A new FSN white paper looks at the case for moving to the cloud and asks, “Is it time to replace your old accounting system?”
Budgeting, Planning and Forecasting in the Cloud
A clutch of vendors such as Anaplan and Adaptive Planning have been romping away and succeeding in winning substantial new customers who have been attracted by the ease with which high participation budgeting, planning and forecasting applications can be implemented in the Cloud. Both of these software houses are now well established and appear to breaking away from the pack.
However, it would be misleading to suggest that running applications in the Cloud in the Public Cloud is always the best solution. Indeed there are many variants and hybrid models that can be considered. These are explained in an FSN/Oracle white paper entitled, “The New Competitive Advantage - Strategic CFOs Embrace the Cloud.”
One of the most exciting developments of the year was Trintech’s launch of “Cadency” which seeks to automate the entire Record-to-Report process. It’s an ambitious and visionary solution which aims to overturn the status quo in financial reporting by exerting complete governance over the end-to-end reporting process by merging the financials with the monitoring of the status of risks and controls on which they depend. This unique capability weaves its way through the whole process from period end reconciliations through to disclosure management (and XBRL) in one environment and it is this which in our view sets Cadency apart from other offerings. The simplicity of the interface and dashboard is something that will be welcomed by CFOs and a question posed in the Financial Systems News (FSN) linkedin group for CFOs, FDs and controllers produced one of the most lively and voluminous discussion threads of the year. And if you are an FSN reader and not part of this discussion forum you are definitely missing out!! You can join this open group here.
XBRL and disclosure management continue to be areas of great interest and continuing developments. New products in the year include “Report Authority” from AMOSCA and Cadency Complete – an element of the Trintech’s financial governance solution mentioned above. With the SEC complaining that there are still far too many errors in XBRL filings and some other well publicized failings in disclosure, such as the premature release of earnings, there has never been a more urgent need to address the controls and risks in the statutory filing process.
Business Intelligence and Dashboards
The BI segment is a very crowded part of the market with lots of suppliers apparently offering similar solutions, but there are little ‘nuggets’ here and there. Two of FSN’s favourites are CXO-Solutions and PrecisionPoint. CXO Solutions is a niche provider which has made significant strides in offering mobile dashboards on popular financial reporting systems such as Hyperion and SAP. There was great interest in a PrecisionPoint product review when we first wrote about it in 2011. The uniqueness of the offering is that you don’t need to be an IT expert to drag information out of Microsoft Dynamics NAV and AX and, now, PrecisionPoint will even provide a managed service.
This year has been a special year for FSN. We regularly have over 50,000 visitors a month to the web site and our Linkedin forum has grown from scratch to 2,000 participants in under a year.
On behalf of the editorial team at FSN it remains for me to wish all of our readers and linkedin participants the seasons greeting of the year and a prosperous 2013.