Quantum Loop

''Performance'' is its middle name -- can new software help companies link past, present, and future?

What interested Caliber was the price — just $150,000 — and the familiarity of the interface. “Basically, we’ve extended [business intelligence] right into the front-end Excel environment,” says Satori CEO David Libesman. “Our proCube product makes reports understandable by allowing people to use the analytical tool they know best, but do far more with it.”

OutlookSoft Corp. is another CPM vendor that emphasizes Excel integration and familiarity. Both companies are young and face stiff competition from the established budgeting and planning software companies that have embraced (and heavily marketed) the CPM vision, not to mention from ERP vendors. But they argue that their single, integrated products, priced right, can compete effectively with the suite or modular approach taken by most of the larger players. —R.B.

No Quick Fix

Obstacles to improving performance management.
Source: CFO Research Services

  • Lack of integrated IT systems: 59%
  • Competing corporate priorities: 59%
  • Change-management fatigue: 31%
  • Lack of funds: 30%
  • Concern about the difficulty of implementation: 25%
  • Inadequate senior-management support: 24%
  • Business-unit resistance: 21%

Enterprising, As Always

As the CPM market evolves, many different sorts of software players will try to claim it as their own, and that certainly would include such ERP vendors as Oracle Corp., PeopleSoft Inc., and SAP AG. John Van Decker, senior program director at IT research firm Meta Group Inc., says that as of now, the companies coming at CPM from the business-intelligence space have the lead. “It’s still too early for the ERP vendors; with one or two exceptions, they’re not consistently able to support performance management,” he says. “While the ERP vendors offer very good integrated solutions, they’re generally not at the level of the BI and financial analytic vendors.”

But they certainly can’t be counted out. “Their appeal is one-stop shopping; they can stress integration since they already ‘own’ the data via their ERP systems,” says Van Decker. “For some buyers, that will make sense. But for now, with one or two exceptions, their functionality is not as sophisticated as that offered by other types of companies.”

Chuck Teller, vice president of product strategy­financial management and EMP solutions at Pleasanton, California-based PeopleSoft, counters by saying, “Enterprise performance management is our play; it’s what we focus on. BI vendors are a tool play.” BI companies often say that ERP vendors have not made the leap from dealing with transactional data to dealing with analytical capabilities. ERP players respond that in fact their products now function as, in Teller’s words, “a complete blueprint of transactional, analytical, and reporting solutions.”

Given that companies can easily spend up to $1 million to deploy most forms of enterprise CPM in the first year alone, buyers will have to look hard at all the options. —R.B.

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