Key Offerings and Announcements at IBM Connect

Last week, Blue Hill Research attended IBM Connect, IBM’s conference dedicated to collaboration and work. This show was known as Lotusphere until 2013 and now serves as a show that presents updates to IBM Connections, IBM Smarter Workforce, and relevant IBM Watson services and products designed to accelerate and enhance work performance. Although this show did not focus on new announcements, it did provide clarity on the future roadmap of IBM across the IBM Watson Work portfolio.

In the General Sessions, the standout presentation came from Dr. Sheena Iyengar, professor at Columbia, who provided the key insight that too much choice creates more errors and less consistency because humans have a limited capacity to process. One example brought up was that trying to do three things at once increased error rate 3x and led to a functional eight point IQ loss, on average. In other words, people are serial-taskers, not multi-taskers. This context was a core message for IBM as it presented its vision around Watson Talent, Watson Workspace, Watson Work Services, and Box Relay.

Although Notes and Domino support is guaranteed until 2021, IBM is looking at the current trends of message-based and API-based collaboration. There are four key areas that Blue Hill noted at this event.

1) Connections Pink, which will be a new delivery solution for Connections capabilities in which practically every service will be a modular microservice API that will be embeddable and available with the goal of supporting real-time updates. This solution will be provided through a Docker deployment and will allow administrators to support cloud and on-premises versions. IBM has committed to update both cloud and on-premises versions on a regular basis. Blue Hill believes that this flexibility of data gravity and services will provide an advantage compared to the vast majority of current social solutions on the enterprise market that lack one of these two categories.

2) Watson Workspace, which is still an invitation-only solution, provides a messaging-based collaboration environment that both integrates with commercial data sources and provides a prioritized view of messages, called “Moments,” to show questions, tasks, and other prioritized messages. The promise for this product is in combining the Workspace inputs with Watson Work Services APIs and bots to provide greater context.

This product is designed as an interoffice messaging solution from a user input perspective.

IBM Workspace

Workspace’s differentiation with the differentiation coming from the analysis and prioritization of all messages based on both native and custom extensions and the aforementioned Work Services API and data integrations. At this show, a number of IBM partners, including Zoom and Cisco, showed their integrations with Workspace to support improved collaboration. And Blue Hill believes that there is a massive opportunity for developers to create more customized Workspaces through Watson Work Services.

3) Watson Work Services are a set of APIs that support a wide array of machine learning, advanced analytics, and artificial intelligence functions. IBM is providing access to these services via their Watson Work Developer Cloud with the goal of opening up access on a test basis for developers. Because these services are available through Javascript and GraphQL, the learning curve to use Work Services is relatively low. Based on this, Blue Hill believes that, if nothing else, developers should be using Watson Work Services APIs as an introduction to accessing machine learning, natural language processing, and other analytic capabilities on an as-a-service basis. Although pricing has not been determined for Work Services at production scale, Blue Hill expects that this pricing will be based on other microservices and API-based usage billing.

4) Box Relay, a joint IBM/Box offering, has the ability to quickly create workflow-based applications across a wide variety of business use cases. This product, expected to release in the second half of 2017, provides IBM with a strong opportunity to bring cognitive, document management, and workflow management capabilities together into a single integrated toolkit. As this occurs, Blue Hill expects that Docusign will be brought in from an authentication and authorization perspective and that this product should be a strong standalone offering. In addition, Blue Hill believes that this capability could potentially be the basis of a strong Global Business Services practice to support custom enterprise collaboration workflows across a wide variety of industries and departments.

Overall, Blue Hill saw that IBM’s roadmap, both based on proof of concepts and existing capabilities, shows a strong understanding of the changes necessary to provide enterprise collaboration solutions at scale in the future. As they do so, IBM will need to make a significant effort with existing Lotus/Connections customers to bring them along and to continue their progression from platform administrators and developers to microservices-savvy developers and integrators. Done right, this could be a strong win-win that provides the Collaborations base with a bridge to the API economy.

From the Mouths of Millennials: 6 Key Trends We Bring to Enterprise Mobility

Note: This blog is the second in a monthly co-authored series written by Charlotte O’Donnelly, Research Associate at Blue Hill Research, and Matt Louden, Brand Journalist at MOBI. MOBI is a mobility management platform that enables enterprises to centralize, comprehend, and control their entire device ecosystems.

There’s a new force changing the business landscape: Millennials. More than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials, and in 2015, Millennials surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce. As we can both attest, Millennials are digital natives – technologies like computers and mobile phones have acted as our new-age pacifiers. To some extent, Millennials take technology for granted. We often demand it at work.

This demographic is vastly different from previous generations, and enterprises need to not only understand these differences, but also provide Millennials with an environment that fosters their productivity and success. (And no, this doesn’t just mean free snacks, a ping-pong table, and beer on tap – but those don’t hurt!)

As Millennials, we’re torn; we hate to perpetuate stereotypes about our entire generation (lazy and entitled?!), but we also love talking about ourselves. When it comes to technology, there are some enterprise trends the majority of Millennials can agree upon:

We are comfortable with a range of devices and technologies, but we have our preferences.

Millennials grew up using a lot of different devices, applications, and operating systems; we’re comfortable learning how to use new gadgets. However, as digital natives and dependents, we have developed specific technology preferences. Expect Millennials to want to use their preferred devices and applications in the workplace.

We believe work can be done from anywhere, at any time.

Gone are the days of nine-to-five, clocking in and out, and being shackled to a desktop computer. Mobile devices have made it possible to check and respond to email on the go, send files via Instant Message (IM), and work from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. Expect Millennials to work remotely and outside traditional office hours.

We love to collaborate, and we value technologies that can support this.

Despite what people may say, Millennials are team players. We’ve had group projects and team sports drilled into us from a young age, and these skills and preferences have translated to the workforce. Communications technologies like, Slack, Google Docs, video/voice conferencing, and screen sharing are intuitive to us. Expect Millennials to value these technologies and integrate them into their daily workflow.

We don’t believe there should be any limits to mobile.

Millennials are more comfortable texting than talking – it’s just how we’ve grown up (ICYMI). What aren’t we comfortable with? Plans that have limits of any kind. We expect to be able to use our mobile devices for anything and everything, and often this means using cellular data if a secure Wi-Fi connection is not available. Expect Millennials to exceed their monthly data, voice, or text plan if it’s too limited or restrictive.

We have our devices with us at all times, and so we tend to wear them down quickly.

Millennials use mobile devices constantly – some of us even sleep with them. This daily usage exposes a device to the elements, and can necessitate frequent repairs or replacements (particularly that oh-so-fragile screen). Expect Millennials to request device upgrades or repairs often, especially as the line between personal and corporate devices becomes blurred.

We think technology should just work. Period.

Millennials have probably never touched or even seen an instruction manual. Instead, we prefer to play around with technology until we can figure it out. We expect problems to be infrequent, insubstantial, and easy to resolve, and we have limited tolerance for device downtime or lengthy support processes. Expect Millennials to lack patience for technology that doesn’t perform or for organizational processes that offer slow resolutions.

What this means for enterprise mobility

These generalizations are increasingly coming into play not just with mobile devices but also with connected devices such as Internet of Things (IoT) assets, wearables, and sensors. How can enterprises ensure Millennials remain productive and satisfied while simultaneously taking steps to protect devices and business information?

Few enterprises are equipped to fully support all aspects of mobility in-house. If enterprises were a little more “lazy” like Millennials (we prefer the term efficient), they’d likely all be using Managed Mobility Services (MMS) solutions to reduce costs, speed up logistics and workflow processes, configure devices with standard application and security environments, support related technologies, facilitate BYOD or flexible device ownership policies, and more frequently refresh device inventories.

Millennials aren’t going anywhere, so it’s time modern enterprises start paying attention if they haven’t already. Though we sometimes get a bad rap, our comfort with technology is a key workplace strength. As for face-to-face communication? We’re working on it.


Identifying Best-in-Breed USER Applications - User Solution Enterprise Ready

Easy Button

Over the past decade, a new set of user-oriented enterprise applications has arrived to support a variety of business use cases across both horizontal use cases such as analytics and collaboration as well as departmental use cases such as finance and sales. Blue Hill notes that these User Solution Enterprise Ready (USER) applications have the following attributes:

  • Product and Service Design: Consumer-grade ease-of-use and visual clarity
  • Focused Functionality: Can be used in the first hour that an end user has access to the application
  • User Focus: Focus on the work process associated with a job role or job need
  • Time-to-value: Production-ready in less than two weeks for a defined use case
  • Virality: Easy to expand usage to multiple users
  • Scalable Performance: No concerns in supporting thousands of users on a single corporate instance

By purchasing USER-based applications that include both User Solution focus and Enterprise-Ready functionality, Blue Hill believes that enterprises can fix existing process pain points into low-risk technology solutions have a payback period of less than six months and provide ongoing value for the organization at large.

In using the acronym USER and including the word “user,” Blue Hill follows the proud “bacronym” tradition of technology that apocryphally includes the venerable email client Pine (Pine Is Not Elm).

To further explore this concept of USER applications, Blue Hill explores the concept of the USER application through the lens of six different solutions. All of these solutions have executed on all of these characteristics to some extent, but Blue Hill believes that there are specific characteristics where each of these solutions stands out. Blue Hill calls out the following six applications for their success as USER applications:

* DataRobot: a machine learning predictive modeling optimization solution
* FloQast: a cloud-based financial close solution
* IBM Watson Analytics: a predictive analytics solution with natural language inputs
* Slack: a team collaboration platform
* Tableau: an analytic discovery and business intelligence platform
* Tact: a mobile sales enablement application with verbal and natural language interaction

Design: Blue Hill still believes that design is the next great battlefield in enterprise applications, especialy for USER applications. The combination of user interface, layout, ease of use, and ease of administration needs to be an active and continuous effort on the behalf of the vendor as users want to be able to use their application immediately. In this regard, Blue Hill believes that Tact and DataRobot serve as good examples of smart application design.

Tact (which recently raised a $15 million B round) has a natural language capability that allows sales people to literally speak to their application and get answers to questions such as “what is the status of my sales opportunities?” Even as sales people are on the road or lack access to their computers, they can ask their phones or Amazon Alexas for the information they are looking for.

In contrast, DataRobot requires statistical knowledge to set up proper parameters, but allows users to quickly design a wide portfolio of potential predictive models simply by providing a set of data. These parameters are set up based on standard statistician and data scientist expectations. Although DataRobot is not focused on supporting all employees, it is well-designed for its specialized data scientist audience.

Functionality: USER applications must be focused on providing immediate outputs that can be translated into user value. For instance, DataRobot’s predictive analytics model suggestions based on data scientist logic allow users to quickly translate raw data into business-ready algorithms. By accelerating the data scientist’s ability to test the relevance of statistical models, DataRobot’s functionality leads directly to accelerating time-to-value for predictive analytics.

And in creating predictive recommendations, Blue Hill notes how IBM Watson Analytics has been valuable since its launch to quickly identify predictive recommendations and provide deeper statistical analysis associated with business data. By providing both a natural language input that allows business managers to ask questions about their data and providing back-end statistical outputs for further statistical and data scientist analysis, IBM’s Watson Analytics looks at both entry-level and advanced functionality.

User focus: Blue Hill recently analyzed FloQast through the lens of five of its customers to determine the efficacy of the solution in supporting financial close. The success of the application is supported by a company that employs accountants at every aspect of the business and created to support the accountant’s pain points. This focus drives the simplicity of deployment and the need to fit the software around the user’s processes rather than vice versa. This expectation on being a strong user solution is a core aspect of being a true USER application.

The user focus for Tact is evident not only in its functionality, but from its focus on natural language processing. In plain terms, sales people like to talk. Tact allows them to directly speak to their sales data and get answers spoken back to them rather than relying solely on a text-based interface. By focusing on the user first rather than what is easiest to support from a technology perspective, Tact stands out in the crowded sales enablement space.

Time-to-Value: To succeed as a USER application, the solution must both be easy to use and provide near-immediate value through its functionality. Both IBM’s Watson Analytics for predictive analytics and Slack for collaboration are usable within minutes of creating an account to support predictions immediately.

When Blue Hill spoke to FloQast, an accounting close solution, we found that software purchasers typically put new employees through a 15-minute training session to get them started on using FloQast to support the monthly close and have a production implementation in place one-to-two weeks after signing off on the solution.

Virality: No discussion of USER application virality can be truly explored without mentioning Tableau, the company that perfected land-and-expand in the analytics world. By providing a fantastic data discovery product at the analyst level, Tableau grew at a meteoric pace by being easy to use and then by winning enough individual users to justify an enterprise-level Server investment. By providing consumer-level loyalty and combining with an effective sales model, Tableau grew into a market leader.

Similarly, Slack has quickly expanded where many collaboration solutions have frozen or stumbled, such as Yammer, Salesforce Chatter, and Skype, by creating a faster, simpler, and freemium product that provides both immediate functionality and supports users quickly.

Scalability and Performance: Ultimately, to provide enterprise-wide value, technologies also have be trusted and available across the entire business. And in understanding this, Blue Hill looks back to Tableau. Over the past decade, Tableau has steadily increased the computing power and number of users supported to the point where Tableau now has thousands of users for its largest deployments and has launched Tableau Online and Tableau Server on public cloud to place the responsibility for computing at scale to the cloud.

Blue Hill also notes how IBM Watson Analytics has taken a cloud-based approach to open up predictive analytics to the masses. By providing a fully cloud-based solution, IBM has made predictive analytics more readily available for adoption. By doing so, performance is no longer a potential barrier to ongoing adoption.


Any process that takes up over one week per month or over two hours in any work day should be a viable target for technology-based optimization. As enterprises and large organizations seek software solutions to support these time-consuming tasks, Blue Hill recommends that companies start with a USER application approach. Look for software solutions that are custom-built to solve an end-user’s direct set of problems around a common enterprise challenge.

Great Expectations? ITSM and Innovation


One of the challenges with IT in the enterprise is making IT both self-service and self-serving, leading to questions such as:

- What are the benefits that most IT organizations can hope to achieve from their self-service initiatives? Will those benefits match/exceed expectations?

- How can they simplify IT as a Service (ITaaS) and focus on predictability and consistent delivery?

The landscape we have known in the past as IT service management (ITSM) has morphed into next generation service platforms, with a focus on social, analytics, mobile, and cloud (SMAC). For example, the ability to handle requests with your mobile and other peripherals can result in a faster response time and an increase in client satisfaction.

Historically, many IT departments did not embrace the “know-your-customer” (KYC) approach to provide market-competitive services and to show that they understood customer needs and requirements, and could deliver a compelling value proposition. Constant innovation in provisioning IT services is the only way to meet user expectations while supporting (within budgetary constraints) an ever-increasing business demand for connectivity.

Blue Hill is examining where the service desk plays a role in infrastructural innovation. The innovation occurs in streamlining IT operations, getting day-to-day demand under control, and transforming IT into a mature business innovator, rather than “break-fix” mode operator. Cutting-edge organizations realize that a next-gen service desk does not just operate within IT, but also manages requests and incidents from HR, finance, and so on. Focusing on the user experience means that the service desk should make life simple for your users by using a single point of digital interaction, with one tool and a single service description. Yet many organizations still have multiple points of contact on their intranet, and one of those is a separate IT service desk. How do we change this?

Let’s start by revisiting what was ITSM and how it has gone into self-service mode. It’s been over 20 years since the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) was introduced, launching the ITSM market. Now what once were ITSM discussions are morphing into discussions on lean and agile processes, including topics like DevOps, agile development, micro services, lean IT, business relationship management, cyber-resilience, and service integration and management (SIAM).

What is IT self-service?  ITSM going into self-service mode empowers employees by letting users log and resolve their own issues, request and track services, share knowledge, and solve problems through collaboration which does not have to actively involve the IT department. Part of the lean discussion is finding and leveraging knowledge champions within the enterprise, not just within the IT department.

One trend: Knowledge and automation

A key service-desk implementation trend is promoting the sharing of skills and experience amongst IT staff (and others) through a knowledge management strategy. This is fast becoming a critical factor in service management outcomes. One effective option is knowledge-centered support (KCS), where knowledge creation is closely bound to the support resolution process.

KCS as a process has been formalized by the Consortium for Service Innovation, which manages KCS practices and techniques based on the collective experience of the Consortium members, who include PTC, Oracle, Salesforce, Qlik, SAP, and others. Knowledge articles are created directly from logged calls, and the original problem description is preserved as part of the knowledge article. Gathering knowledge and best practice for resolution creates momentum to encourage knowledge-sharing. The immediate nature of knowledge creation and the automatic way in which the authors of knowledge are recognized encourage the creation of material and the refined knowledge article is still bound to the raw problem description. If you want to learn more about best practices in KCS, this upcoming webinar with case studies with Lowe’s and Spectrum Health might be of interest for you.

Trends in Orchestration: See IT, solve IT

Another trend is orchestration of the service management environment. What kind of tools and solutions have we seen that have created either orchestration or integration into processes in ITSM?

- Atlassian provides tools to automate scrum boards, kanban boards and agile development management tools that integrate into ITSM workflows.

- AUTOMIC orchestrates self-service automation with leading helpdesks (BMC, Remedy, ServiceNow)

- Ivanti enables endpoint security to take remediation actions through the integration of service management, security management and asset management approaches.

ServiceNow has created a business command center for CIOs, focused on helping IT run projects and portfolios from a financial perspective through the new ServiceNow IT Business Management Suite.

Self-service: No longer optional

With more and more automated devices entering the workforce, providing self-serving IT service and support becomes more mission critical for the digital-enabled enterprise. A positive user service experience and increased customer satisfaction fosters a culture of innovation and enhanced processes for today’s enterprise to be more competitive and agile.

Preview of RSA Conference 2017


RSA 2017 starts Monday February 13th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco and promises to be a jam-packed conference full to bursting with expo participants.    This year’s conference will focus on the advances and pitfalls of innovation within the industry, the importance of intelligence sharing and continued rise of threats related to IoT and ransomware.

The role of information security and innovation in the enterprise is key to this year’s conference, with Symantec doing their presentation on innovation and the future of cyber security.

Going to RSAC this year?   Here are several booths to put on your ‘route map’ for your visit:

Forcepoint in booth 3527 will be demonstrating Forcepoint’s capabilities in both cloud and on-premise email and web security; next generation firewalls; data loss prevention and insider threat; and cross domain solutions.

Tripwire in booth 3301 has ‘on tap’ which threat intelligence traps organizations should avoid, and how to operationalize this data for faster, more effective incident response.

RiskVision in booth 3208 will be highlighting their solution with its usability, scale, automation and time-to-deployment advantages.

In January, Arxan Technologies has completed its acquisition of Apperian, so Apperian will be attending the RSA 2017 Conference alongside Arxan Technologies at booth 3335, discussing new approaches to info security, specifically in security and management policy at the app level.

RiskSense in booth 2816 is going to be demonstrating how their cyber risk solution quickly orchestrates remediation, and helps monitor the results.

And if you cannot get there due to whatever snowstorm or weather keeps you grounded, then watch the livestream of the keynotes via the link here:

MTS Announces Departure of CEO, Orey Gilliam, After 8 Months


On February 6, MTS announced that its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Orey Gilliam, has decided to leave the company, effective at the end of April 2017. Alon Mualem, MTS’ Chief Financial Officer (CFO), will take over as CEO on an interim basis, effective immediately, while MTS searches for a replacement CEO. Gilliam brought his internet and media background to his role at MTS, where video advertising continues to be a core area of business for the company. MTS cited differences in long-term strategic vision as a reason for Gilliam’s departure.

Gilliam was appointed as CEO on June 1, 2016, joining MTS with 20 years of experience in the consumer internet, business intelligence, and telecom verticals. Gilliam previously served as CEO of ICQ, an AOL company, and later headed all of AOL Messaging, including AIM and ICQ product lines. Most recently prior to joining MTS, Gilliam served as an advisor, consultant, and board member to internet- and mobile-focused startups.

MTS currently supports solutions across telecom expense management, enterprise mobility management, and video advertising. Under MTS’ former CEO, Lior Salansky, MTS closed its acquisition of Vexigo Ltd. – a software company providing mobile- and internet-based video advertising solutions – in April 2015, for a total cost of $4 million.

Vexigo continues to drive a core portion of MTS’ business. MTS reported video advertising revenues for the nine months ended September 30, 2016 totaling $4.6 million. Total revenues during this period were $10.0 million, down slightly from $10.5 million for the same period in 2015.

Said Gilliam at the time of reporting, “We continue to make progress in implementing our strategy to enhance Vexigo’s position as a leader in the video advertising space. We are moving forward with additional investments in our technology and products… and believe in its future growth potential.”

Blue Hill notes that for the time being, Vexigo will continue to be a core portion of MTS’ business, representing nearly 50% of the company’s revenue as of September 2016. However, as traditional video advertising has become an increasingly competitive space, with the emergence of new media platforms such as Snapchat vying for advertising revenues, MTS may end up placing a lesser priority on this vertical in the future.

Gilliam’s background in mobile- and internet-based startups demonstrates his entrepreneurial spirit and his focus on high-growth technologies. While TEM remains an interesting space with its market leadership movement, private equity investments, and frequent, niche market-entrants, it has not typically been known as the most fast-moving or high-risk technology area. However, as TEM expands into supporting non-traditional IT assets, such as Internet of Things and cloud technologies, Blue Hill believes that the space will become more attractive for entrepreneurial-minded executives and technology startups in the near future.

DataOps, “Agile Growability,” and a Humble Dose of Humanity: 11 Things I Want to Hear at Strata + Hadoop World San Jose

See you at Strata + Hadoop World San Jose.Strata + Hadoop World San Jose is coming, and—trade show junkie that I am—I’m once again filled with anticipation. I look forward to new and exciting technologies on display, plenty of marketing hype, and of course, brightly-colored logo pens (especially the ones that double as flashlights or USB sticks). In addition to the sweet swag, here’s what I hope to see and hear in California…

Acknowledgement from data-technology vendors of the growing influence of business end users in purchase decisions. It’s no longer just about the IT leader! Selling technology for technology’s sake is not enough any more, and vendors who ignore business leadership audiences in their messaging do so at their own peril. I want to hear how cool new technologies will help not just IT leadership, but business users as well.

Context! I’m a Strata-holic. I want see all the new features of all the new functional solutions. But I want to see those solutions demo’ed in the context of broader business and DataOps workflows.

Business value! Imagine, if you will, a solution message that starts with business value and works its way backwards…like say, a technology positioned as the business case for a DataOps approach. The new data-technology sale is less about the how and more about the why: delivering tangible, measurable enterprise business value. Why aren’t we all getting that yet? (Hat-tip to the GoodData social-media folks for this much better way of putting it.)

Speaking of business value, I’m eager to hear a compelling “cloud + data = goodness” message from Microsoft. I like where Microsoft is going with its Cortana Intelligence Suite, Azure Data Factory, and Power BI. (Full disclosure: I used to work there.) But I want more. Excluding a certain online bookseller located on the opposite side of Lake Washington, Microsoft is the only major enterprise data management solution provider that owns the cloud, so to speak. In this instance, at least from Microsoft’s selling perspective, cloud is more than a commoditized, off-premise storage option—It’s a strategic advantage…I think. And I want to hear about how that’s a potential advantage for me, expressed (empathetically!) in data-analytics value terms.

And speaking of coherent cloud messages, I’m still waiting for a good solution to the data-consumption bottleneck. How can data consumers digest data (think streaming) as fast as the architecture can scale to store it? (The answer is not hiring more interns to monitor reporting dashboards.) Toph-the-marketing-boy should be able to avoid missing stuff, test new data applications easily, and work with exponentially greater datasets than he currently can. (Sisense paid darn good lip service to this challenge last fall, and I’m looking forward to an update.)

And speaking of that already-here-no-longer-looming data-consumption bottleneck as an example, I’m particularly interested in companies with data technologies that work “here” applied to what’s going on over “there.” For instance, Anodot takes its anomaly-detection technology beyond the ops world and uses it to attack the data-consumption-as-data-volume-grows-exponentially challenge. And Rocana performance-monitoring software doubles nicely as an accountability and visibility solution for senior (read: non-technical) management.

Orchestration across the silos! Point solutions are good. Functional solutions are good. But when they don’t support cross-function and cross-organizational-silo transparency, their success is limited. Platform-level data orchestration is the next big thing, and not everyone is addressing it yet. Teradata’s “Unified Data Architecture” messaging is a good start. (Teradata marketing folks, please save me a logo pen.) So is Domo’s anti-silo evangelism.

The next layer of trust in data: data solutions that are smart enough to provide on-the-fly extensibility. Call it “agile growability,” call it “smart integration,” but what it really is is a data-management model that grows dynamically as it learns from its own operation. (Continuous improvement? Oh yeah. V2.0.)  A good DataOps workflow provides the best data journey at that moment. A great DataOps workflow is smart enough to improve itself over time. A business user should be able to not just trust in the data now, but trust that the next dataset will be even better. Who’s headed this way?

Actian, I’ve had a change of heart. Please…bring back the dancers.

Democratization that’s meaningful. TIBCO, I’m looking your way—Tell me more about “self-service integration for all” (and why it’s better than the alternatives). And DataRobot—Your advanced analytics are stellar, but what’s the true business impact of my becoming a “citizen data scientist?”

Finally, a human request: Our industry has been built upon—and thrives because of—the contributions of immigrants. I speak as one (to Canada) when I ask: How can we support our tech workers impacted by possible U.S. immigration restrictions? Some initial options for Big Data companies: sign amicus briefs, petition for more H1-B visas, and hug your employees. And if it comes to it, consider opening satellite development offices in other countries. (Canadian technology firms may not wait for you.)


Blue Hill Research Enterprise Performance Management Highlights, January 2017

Balancing the account

Note: To support questions from enterprise buyers and private investors interested in the Enterprise Performance Management market across Planning, Budgeting, Forecasting, Consolidation, Close, and Audit, Blue Hill provides a monthly review of the key announcements made in this space for companies including, but not limited to:
Adaptive Insights, Anaplan, Axiom EPM, Blackline, Board, Budget Maestro, Capital Confirmation, FloQast, Host Analytics, IBM, Longview, Onestream, Oracle, Prophix, SAP, Tagetik, Tidemark, Trintech, and Workday.

In January, several performance and financial management companies made personnel and acquisition moves to support increasing growth, both at startup and mature business stages. As expected, most companies in this space are preparing for the upcoming trade show season and had announced Winter releases in December, leaving this market unusually quiet… at least for now.

Vendors profiled this month include Anaplan, AxiomEPM, and FloQast.

Anaplan Appoints Frank Calderoni as Chief Executive Officer

On January 10th, Anaplan announced that it was hiring Frank Calderoni as CEO of Anaplan effective as of January 23rd. Previous to Anaplan, Calderoni served as EVP of Operations and CFO of Red Hat and also has executive experience at Cisco, IBM, QLogic, and SanDisk.

Blue Hill notes that Calderoni’s most recent experience with Red Hat is the most relevant comparison to Anaplan’s current challenge to selling both a platform and a portfolio of products that are horizontal across all business categories, but targeted at specific departments. His combination of being a finance and operations-oriented executive working with developer-friendly Red Hat should help in guiding Anaplan both from a financial and a strategic perspective.

It is also hard not to notice that Frank Calderoni is the brother of Anaplan Chairman of the Board, Bob Calderoni. Despite the familial relationship, Blue Hill believes that Anaplan needed a CEO with experience in managing a platform-led company where developers and modelers are responsible for the expansion of the company. In hiring Frank Calderoni, Anaplan has chosen an executive who has done this at scale at multiple organizations.

Karen Clarke joins Anaplan to lead Northern Europe

On January 26th, Anaplan announced Karen Clarke as Regional Vice President of Northern Europe. Clarke comes from Oracle where she previously managed the solution consulting business.

Blue Hill noted in September of last year that Anaplan has achieved a $100 million+ annual revenue. At this size, Anaplan must now bring in veteran managers for each key market. In addition, the trend of seeing Oracle veterans move to fast-growing EPM vendors continues as EPM proves to be a hot growth area in the world of enterprise applications.

Axiom EPM
Kaufman Hall Announces Acquisition of KREG Information Systems

On January 5th, Kaufmann Hall announced that it had acquired KREG Information Systems, a contract modeling, budgeting, and decision support software solution for healthcare providers.

This acquisition will strengthen Kaufmann Hall’s combination of consulting and software tools for enterprise performance management in healthcare. Healthcare is one of Kaufmann Hall’s core verticals and Blue Hill believes that this acquisition provides additional benefit to providing both sourcing and strategic guidance in this industry. The contract, reimbursement guidance, and payment compliance capabilities that KREG Information Systems provides are important in supporting payments and forecasting expectations for the CFO office.

Kaufman Hall Announces Record EPM Software Growth in 2016

On January 31st, Kaufmann Hall announced “a 37 percent increase in sales bookings and nearly 60 new enterprise customers” in 2016 including reference clients across healthcare, banking and education: Ascension Health, Trinity Health, Dignity Health, American Airlines Credit Union, Yale University, Tufts University, and George Washington University.

Blue Hill believes that consultant-led software deployments provide greater guidance for companies going through the full Customer Journey from Decision to Implementation to Value Mapping to Evolution. The combination of Kaufmann Hall’s value-based approach, strong software capabilities led by Axiom EPM, customer satisfaction, and the general growth curve in the Enterprise Performance Management market have led to this level of success. Blue Hill believes that this growth will continue to be sustainable over the next couple of years based on greenfield opportunity, market conditions, and Kaufmann Hall’s targeted vertical focus and consulting capabilities to support the Axiom EPM platform.

FloQast Names Todd Ellwood Vice President of Sales

On January 31st, FloQast, a provider of financial close software, announced hiring Todd Ellwood as Vice President of Sales. Ellwood previously served in sales leadership roles at Dell, where he was acquired twice through Dell’s acquisition of Quest Software, then before that in Quest’s acquisition of Aelita Software.

Blue Hill believes that this combination of enterprise and startup experience is important for a Vice President of Sales for an early stage startup such as FloQast. Aelita was acquired as a relatively small 120 person company and ended up being integrated into Quest Software’s Microsoft business unit. Having been through the journey of shifting from product sale to solution sales before, Blue Hill believes that this strategic hire is indicative of FloQast’s long-term goals of expanding beyond close to supporting additional audit, consolidation, and collaboration needs over time.

If you have any questions about these announcements or how they should affect your software purchasing or IT roadmap plans, please contact us at

Blue Hill Research BI and Machine Learning Highlights, January 2017

Blue Hill Research BI and Machine Learning HighlightsTo support questions from enterprise buyers and private investors interested in the Business Intelligence market and related analytics and machine learning topics, Blue Hill provides a monthly summary of key enterprise BI and related analytics and machine learning announcements that catch our eye.

In contrast to some of the other enterprise markets that Blue Hill covers, this has been an extremely busy month for business intelligence providers both in reacting to regulatory issues and in partnering with each other. This month’s roundup features Arcadia Data, Birst, Chartio, Datasift, Domo, GoodData, IBM, Klipfolio, Logi Analytics, Looker, Microsoft, Qlik, and Tableau.

Arcadia Data

Arcadia Data Introduces First Visual Analytics Platform Native to Cloudera Enterprise

On January 11, Arcadia Data announced that it was providing visual analytics that were directly integrated with Cloudera’s platform to provide a solution for streaming historical and unstructured data within a single analytics visualization platform.

Blue Hill believes that this integration is an important step forward for providing performant and multi-sourced visualizations consistent with the variety of Big Data. Ultimately, the value of Big Data does not come solely from the integration and ingestion of massive data volumes, but from the practical capability of gaining real-time visibility to a wide variety of data types in proper context. With this announcement, Arcadia Data is a step ahead of other Big Data analytics solutions in unlocking the analytic value of enterprise Cloudera deployments.


Birst Achieves EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Certification, Upholds International Data Protection Standards

On January 17, Birst announced TRUSTe validation for meeting Privacy Shield qualifications needed to transfer personal data between the United States and the European Union.

Blue Hill is watching data transfer and privacy rulings between the United States and the European Union closely with the understanding that current governmental policy makes these standards difficult to predict. As Evan Swarztrauber of TechFreedom recently shared in Hadooponomics, Privacy Shield itself is far from perfect. The most important part of this announcement is in Birst’s rapid ability to receive validation. Blue Hill believes that these standards will continue to change rapidly due to governmental policy concerns. As these changes occur, enterprise software providers must be prepared with a flexible toolkit of data configuration, data lineage, and data transfer capabilities to meet legislative standards.


Treasure Data And Chartio Announce Integration To Drive Live Business Intelligence

On January 10th, Treasure Data and Chartio announced a partnership to provide a “Live Business Intelligence” integration intended to ingest, unite, and visualize a wide variety of sources through a drag-and-drop interface and at high performance.

Blue Hill notes the competition occurring to be “Real-Time,” “Live,” and “Timely” with data. In this battle, Treasure Data has established itself as a strong supporter of rapid event analysis and a high performance warehouse of massive and varied data. Chartio is well-known for its ease of use and data visualization capabilities. Together, Blue Hill believes that this solution is a cost-effective partnership for organizations requiring rapid and industrial-scale analytics. Blue Hill recommends considering this partnership for companies seeking to unlock a wide variety of data sources and quickly translate into business-friendly visualizations and dashboards.


LinkedIn and DataSift Join Forces to Provide Data-Driven Marketers with Advanced Insights

On January 18th, DataSift announced a partnership with LinkedIn and launched PYLON for LinkedIn Engagement Insights to analyze anonymized data across all of LinkedIn’s current dimensions and variables. The intent of this tool is to provide broad-based guidance based on populations of LinkedIn users rather than to track specific users.

Blue Hill analysts have tracked DataSift for years and previously recommended DataSift as a social media analytics tool at DataHive Consulting prior to our acquisition. DataSift initially positions this product as a tool to find new audience segments, test content marketing initiatives, and to effectively measure brand sentiment. Blue Hill believes that DataSift’s PYLON for LinkedIn could also be valuable for recruiting, learning and development, and product and skill adoption.

The true value of aligning social analytics to core business tasks is still in its infancy, since the focus of social media analytics has mainly been narrowly focused on marketing rather than a bigger picture analysis of customer satisfaction, product development, and ongoing talent development needs. With DataSift PYLON for LinkedIn, companies will be better positioned to quickly benchmark themselves, their partners, and their customers in context of the rest of the world.


Crimson Hexagon Expands Business Intelligence Footprint Through Domo Partnership

On January 12, Crimson Hexagon announced an integration with Domo to bring social media data into a business analytics environment. The Crimson Hexagon connector is available in the Domo Appstore as a QuickStart app that integrates social media into business workflows.

Again, the trend of social media coming into business intelligence comes into play. From Domo’s perspective, this connector provides an important source of social media data and analytics into the same area as sales, finance, and other core business intelligence reports and dashboards. Crimson Hexagon is a Boston-area success story in providing monitoring, categorization, and analysis of social media topics and accounts with a focus on brand management, marketing agencies, and non-profit organizations. Blue Hill believes that this partnership helps introduce Crimson Hexagon to new departments and verticals over time while providing Domo with a strong social media analytics partner that is well suited to account-based and psychographic business drivers.


GoodData Adds a Second International Data Center, in Canada

On January 24, GoodData announced its second non-US-based data center, following the 2015 launch of a United Kingdom-based data center, supporting an increasingly international customer list. This data center helps provide improved support, scale, and governance for international clients.

Blue Hill believes that this diversity will be important for companies seeking to have absolute trust in their data residency, and will serve as an advantage for GoodData in maintaining performance and availability regardless of potential technical, legal, or physical risks by providing more options for a global audience.


IBM provides TensorFlow deep learning for PowerAI users

On January 26th, IBM announced that its PowerAI distribution, designed to support improved performance for human-like information processing and deep learning, now supports the TensorFlow framework initially designed by Google.

Blue Hill believes that this combination of IBM-optimized hardware and software and the quickly-expanding use of TensorFlow for unstructured data analysis such as text, speech, and video will be used by IBM’s Global Business Solutions consultants to create flexible solutions based on the TensorFlow framework. It is hard not to notice how this technology directly competes against existing IBM Watson APIs and services, such as the video analysis that Blue Hill recently noted.  However, this announcement is in line with the IBM approach of quickly adopting both Open Source and trending technological frameworks, regardless of where they were initially created, with the goal of supporting high-value enterprise solutions.


Klipfolio Raises $12 Million (Cdn) to Further Boost Growth

On January 5th, Klipfolio announced a $12 million (CDN) Series B funding round led by OMERS Ventures to provide cloud-based dashboards to the small and medium business market. Klipfolio has consistently doubled its customer base year-over-year and now supports over 7,000 customers while supporting over 500 integrations.

Blue Hill believes that Klipfolio is well-suited to provide real-time dashboards at an affordable price and augment existing business intelligence solutions, especially to support cloud-based services that may not be fully supported by legacy BI solutions. As a solution starting at $300/yr to support five users, Blue Hill believes that Kilpfolio is an extremely low-risk and high-reward solution to support line-of-business and cloud-based dashboard requests focused on real-time data and performance.


Looker Launches Support for Amazon Athena

On January 23rd, Looker announced its support for Amazon Athena, which allows users to analyze Amazon S3-based data with SQL and to support standard structured data formats.

Blue Hill observes that this combination makes sense, given Looker’s strong focus on LookML and supporting analytics at massive scale. This move is consistent with the progress that Blue Hill noted from Looker in October 2016 when we said that Looker was “empowering data analysts to implement new business logic more quickly, getting analytics out to a broad audience more quickly through the API, and empowering data users and browsers to provide intelligent and qualitative ways to display and prioritize analytics that matter in the context of daily work.”

With support for Athena, Blue Hill believes that Looker should be considered as a preferred analytic querying and visualization solution for existing data on S3 storage without having to move into RedShift or other analytic environments.

Looker’s support for Athena brings enterprises one step closer to the Holy Grail of being able to conveniently analyze all data by translating CSV, JSON, ORC, Parquet, and other standard data on Amazon S3.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

Push data to Power BI streaming datasets without writing any code using Microsoft Flow

Announcing General Availability of Power BI Real-Time Streaming Datasets

In the last few days of January, Microsoft made two announcements regarding streaming data and Power BI. On January 26th, Microsoft announced the ability to push data into  streaming Power BI dataset with a codeless action. And on January 31, Microsoft added to this by announcing general availability for real-time streaming data sets on Power BI and support for Azure Stream Analytics.

When Power BI first launched in 2015, Blue Hill warned that Microsoft’s Power BI Will Transform Enterprise BI and it continues to do so by combining an extremely affordable cost with ongoing functionality improvements that expand the scope of BI.

This current focus on streaming analytics reflects the increasing need for enterprises to support log analytics, social media analytics, and the Internet of Things through standard BI and reporting tools. Power BI’s support for streaming data integration and visualization demonstrates the increasing necessity to support streaming data as a foundational BI capability.


Qlik Delivers Advanced GeoAnalytic Offerings with Acquisition of Idevio

On January 4th, Qlik announced the acquisition of Idevio to support advanced geographic analytics above and beyond basic mapping capabilities. Idevio is available immediately as Qlik GeoAnalytics, and Qlik has announced plans to integrate with Qlik Sense in the second half of 2017.

Blue Hill’s take is that as geography and weather become increasingly important to real estate, retail business, logistics, and many other business use cases, businesses can increasingly take advantage of advanced and pinpointed spatial data. With this acquisition, Qlik moves closer to other analytics companies known for their geospatial analytics, such as Alteryx and Teradata. With this acquisition, Qlik extends its ability to provide contextualized analytic insights.

Qlik Sense Cloud Business Now Available

On January 24th, Qlik Sense was announced as a team and group solution to support analytics in the cloud. The Qlik Sense Cloud Business offering will be available at $25 per user per month and provides the Qlik visual analytics platform in the cloud.

Yes, Qlik is now truly in the cloud. Blue Hill covered Qlik’s initial launch of Qlik Sense as a self-service data discovery tool back in September 2014 as an individual data discovery tool. With this addition of group-based governance and shared work spaces, Blue Hill expects this offering to be immediately competitive both in the SMB and mid-sized enterprise spaces based both on the Qlik brand and the ability to support collaborative analytics.

Tableau (NYSE:DATA)

Tableau Names Winners of 2016 Partner Awards

On January 25th, Tableau announced that it had recognized its top technology and channel partners for 2016. Winners included Icimo, Slalom Consulting, Deloitte, Teknion, Informatica, Sirius Computer Solutions, BluePatagon, and FedResults.

Blue Hill found it interesting that Informatica was named Global Technology Partner of the Year, an award previously won by Alteryx. Although Blue Hill believes that Tableau-Alteryx will be a strong partnership for the foreseeable future, Blue Hill also believes that this award represents a shift as Tableau focuses on enterprise deployments to a greater extent and demonstrates its ability to expand both users and wallet share in its existing market base over time. Now that Tableau has quickly evolved from market upstart to market leader, the company is pursuing deals that reflect this next stage of maturity.


If you are interested in a deeper discussion of any of these perspectives or how they affect customer purchasing decisions, please reach out to us at

Blue Hill Research Subscription Billing Highlights, January 2017

Blue Hill Research Subscription Billing Highlights

Note: To support questions from enterprise buyers and private investors that are looking at Subscription Billing and the larger world of Demand-Driven Monetization, Blue Hill is starting a review of key announcements and analysis focused on subscription billing including, but not limited to: Amdocs, APTTUS, Aria, Avangate, Cerillion, Chargebee, Chargify, CheddarGetter, Cleverbridge, Comverse, Ericsson, FinancialForce, FuseBill, GoTransverse, Intacct, Kenandy, Logisense, Microsoft, NetSuite, Oracle, Recurly, Salesforce, SAP, Softrax, Spreedly, and Zuora.

Blue Hill’s view of subscription billing and Strategy Monetization is that
- Strategy Monetization is the practice of translating business strategy into revenue.
- Subscription Billing is an important bridge towards a client-driven, on-demand utilization economy.
- “Assets” are now liabilities when they are underutilized or unrelated to monetization.
- Permanent ownership is increasingly being replaced by on-demand usage across all aspects of society.
- The most important true assets are customer relationships.


Former Salesforce executive to steer FinancialForce through next phase of aggressive growth

On January 6, FinancialForce announced the appointment of Tod Nielsen as Chief Executive Officer and President. Prior to joining FinancialForce, Nielsen served as Executive Vice President of Platform at Salesforce, Chief Executive Officer of Heroku (acquired by Salesforce in 2011), and as both Chief Operating Officer and Co-President of the Applications Platform Group at VMware. Nielsen has previously held executive roles at Microsoft and Oracle as well.

At VMware, Nielsen helped to drive a 9-fold increase in the company’s market cap to over $50 billion. Nielsen was also responsible for redefining Heroku’s enterprise strategy prior to its acquisition by Salesforce. FinancialForce is built on the Salesforce Platform and grew more than 40% in 2016, approaching $100 million in annual revenue.

In addition, FinancialForce continues to broaden and strengthen its API network and the application development side of its business. Blue Hill observes that Nielsen’s background in IT likely hints that FinancialForce will prioritize technological innovation as an avenue for growth going forward. As an example of this development, Blue Hill recently noted FinancialForce’s advances in billing and revenue for subscription businesses.

At this point in FinancialForce’s growth, Blue Hill notes, it makes sense to bring on a seasoned cloud executive who understands the business strategy of multi-billion-dollar platform products and who has experience leading and growing cloud technology businesses. Blue Hill expects that with this hire, FinancialForce will increase the extensibility, openness, and developer community associated with its platform.


Kenandy Names Donna Armstrong Executive Vice President of Partners and Services

On January 10, Kenandy announced it has hired Donna Armstrong as Executive Vice President of Partners and Services. Armstrong will primarily help Kenandy to scale its operations and expand its partner ecosystem by managing professional services, support, strategy, and partner development, while working closely with Kenandy CEO, Chuck Berger.

Armstrong joins the firm with over 30 years of experience in software sales, business consulting, and channel development, most recently serving as Vice President of Sales for Sage X3, Vice President of Business Development at Rootstock, and General Manager of Microsoft’s small and midmarket group, leading partner ecosystem development.

Kenandy currently has a large partner ecosystem across implementation partners, referral partners, and technology partners, and is actively growing out this channel. Kenandy’s solution is built on the Salesforce platform and thus its go-to-market messaging is largely centered around this partnership. Blue Hill notes that Armstrong’s background in channel development and software sales will likely be helpful in further expanding Kenandy’s partner network going forward.


Monica Langley Joins Salesforce as EVP, Global Strategic Affairs

On January 12, Salesforce announced that Monica Langley will join the company as Executive Vice President, Global Strategic Affairs. Langley will guide corporate strategy as Salesforce approaches $10 billion in annual revenue, and works toward its stated goal of becoming a $20 billion company.

Prior to joining Salesforce, Langley worked at The Wall Street Journal for 27 years, beginning her career in corporate law and government relations and working as an adjunct journalism and law professor while at The Wall Street Journal. Langley is also the author of the 2003 bestseller, Tearing Down the Walls: How Sandy Weill Fought His Way to the Top of the Financial World…and Then Nearly Lost It All.

Blue Hill notes that Langley is an interesting and somewhat unexpected hire for Salesforce as the company continues to prioritize its technical innovations such as new Einstein AI developments and expanded API support. Bringing on an Executive Vice President with a strategic, rather than technical background hints that Salesforce is working to determine a long-term vision for the company in addition to investing in incremental technology improvements for its platform.

Salesforce Announces Grand Opening of New Seattle Area Engineering & Innovation Hub, Plans to Double Local Workforce to 500

On January 18, Salesforce announced the opening of its new Bellevue, WA office, which will house one of the company’s largest Engineering & Innovation Hubs. Salesforce plans to double its workforce in Bellevue to nearly 500 employees. The new Engineering Hub is aimed at accelerating Salesforce’s time to market for new technology solutions by providing collaborative, creative spaces to Salesforce engineers working on continuing innovations in Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and IoT.

Blue Hill recently covered the introduction of Salesforce’s Einstein AI layer, in which we noted that Einstein can relieve data science bottlenecks and lead to better, data-driven decision-making by making AI accessible to sales and marketing departments in an organization. As Salesforce continues to invest in bringing AI solutions to market, the new creative spaces at its Engineering & Innovation Hub in Bellevue, WA will enable Salesforce engineers to collaborate on new technology innovations for the Salesforce platform. Salesforce’s doubling of its workforce in Bellevue further underscores the company’s commitment to continue investing in AI, machine learning, and IoT, and its prioritization of bringing these solutions to market quickly.

These are the key subscription billing and strategic monetization announcements Blue Hill saw in January 2017. If you have any new tips to provide or would like to schedule a briefing, please contact us at