Category Archives: Financial Operations

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Analyzing Host Analytics’ Customers for Life Program: The Road to Renewal

As part of Blue Hill’s ongoing commitment to tracking the Customer Journey, we are documenting vendor approaches to support the Road to Renewal, where customers make a decision on maintaining vendor contracts based on value and client experience. In this report, Blue Hill documents Host AnalyticsCustomers for Life program and potential repercussions for enterprises seeking to purchase or replace financial management solutions.

The goal of this document is to provide best practices to enterprise performance management and financial management customers regarding key traits associated with successful subscription renewal.

To read the rest of this report, please fill out the download form

Microsoft Word - RT-A0291-HostAnalyticsRoadToRenewal.docx

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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
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
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 research@bluehillresearch.com

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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.

FinancialForce

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

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.

Salesforce

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 research@bluehillresearch.com

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Accelerating and Standardizing the Accounting Close with FloQast

This Blue Hill report describes the selection process and value proposition associated with FloQast, a software solution focused on organizing, governing, and accelerating the accounting close process. By interviewing five companies that identified and implemented FloQast as a third-party vendor, Blue Hill found that FloQast provided mid-to-large sized organizations with a well-designed close solution that was considered to be unique in its capabilities. Customers identified the value of FloQast in a variety of ways, such as reducing the time taken for accounting close processes, supporting increased collaboration and employee accountability, and enabling higher-value activities such as reconciliation and analysis that had not previously been possible with legacy processes.

To read the rest of this report, please fill out the download form.

Microsoft Word - Report - AoD Floqast Nov2016 - FINAL.docx

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Blue Hill Research Subscription Billing Highlights, October 2016

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 are 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.

Aria

Aria Systems Announces Compliance with EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework

On October 25th, Aria announced receiving TRUSTe validation for the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework. The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield replaces the first cross-Atlantic data privacy agreement, the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor framework, which was invalidated last year by the European Court of Justice.

The invalidation of Safe Harbor created significant confusion for companies seeking to conduct multi-national business. Blue Hill advises that companies conducting international commerce be careful in ensuring that they are managing data between the United States and Europe in a compliant and secure fashion. With this announcement, Aria provides its strategic monetization clients with assurance on compliant and private data management.

Fusebill

Fusebill Names SaaS Industry Veteran Rob Sutherland as CRO

On October 26th, Fusebill, an SMB-focused subscription billing solution announced the appointment of Rob Sutherland as Chief Revenue Officer (CRO). Prior to joining Fusebill, he held multiple executive positions at Halogen Software, a leading provider of cloud-based talent management solutions

This executive appointment follows last month’s announcement where Fusebill raised a $6 million round for its billing solution from ScaleUp Ventures, Langdell Investments, OMERS Ventures, and BDC Capital. With this combination, Blue Hill expects to see Fusebill grow rapidly as subscription billing is increasingly becoming a necessary capability for any business seeking to pursue digital transformation, data monetization, or Internet of Things efforts.

Intacct

Intacct Launches Contract Billing for CRM

On October 4th, Intacct, a cloud ERP provider, announced Intacct Contract Billing for CRM to support integrated billing, reporting, and ASC 606-compliant accounting based on existing Salesforce data, with the goal of automating subscription and complex billing and pricing models.

Blue Hill has previously documented the value of Intacct’s role in supporting new revenue recognition standards. Blue Hill believes that the Salesforce data set will be an interesting competitive landscape for the subscription billing world as every market leader has strong integrations with Salesforce in some way. Obviously, Zuora has strong Salesforce ties starting with CEO Tien Tzuo. And ERP competitor, FinancialForce, has its own Billing Central product to support subscription billing directly on Salesforce data.

In this context, Blue Hill is planning to provide additional guidance in 2017 on subscription billing, pricing, and revenue recognition solutions that are appropriate for the Salesforce ecosystem.

These are the key subscription billing and strategic monetization announcements Blue Hill saw in October 2016. If you have any new tips to provide or would like to schedule a briefing, please contact us at research@bluehillresearch.com

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Blue Hill Research Subscription Billing Highlights, September 2016

Blue Hill Research Subscription Billing HighlightsNote: To support questions from enterprise buyers and private investors that are looking at Subscription Billing and the larger world of Strategy Monetization, Blue Hill provides 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, Oracle, Recurly, Salesforce, SAP, Softrax, Spreedly, Vindicia, and Zuora.

Blue Hill’s view of subscription billing and Strategy Monetization are 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.

This has been an extremely busy month in the subscription billing world as multiple market leaders have been extremely aggressive in their innovation, another market leader was acquired, and yet another provider got a round of funding. Now we have a better idea of how this market will consolidate. To read Blue Hill’s analysis on what happened to Amdocs, Vindicia, Aria, FinancialForce, and Fusebill, keep on reading!

Amdocs/Vindicia

Amdocs Acquires Three Leading Technology Companies to Expand Digital Offering

On September 14, Amdocs announced that it had closed the acquisition of three companies – Vindicia, Brite:Bill and Pontis – in line with the company’s digital strategy. From a subscription billing perspective, Blue Hill analysts have tracked Vindicia for nearly a decade and it is always exciting to track a company from its early years to acquisition or IPO.

Vindicia, founded in 2003, had raised $49 million in funding and had achieved annual revenue of over $20 million per year. Blue Hill has tracked Vindicia’s success in Over-the-Top media and digital content monetization. Blue Hill believes that Vindicia’s capabilities and business will be the core of the Amdocs Optima eCommerce offering announced at CTIA 2016.

Blue Hill congratulates Vindicia’s team and investors on a successful exit and in joining with a company that has competitive reasons to continue improving Vindicia’s capabilities.

Aria Systems

Aria Systems Launches Aria Crescendo

On September 8th, Aria announced the general availability of Aria Crescendo, which includes multi-dimensional product and service modeling, n-tiered parent/child relationships, financial metrics to support repeating revenue, and integration to support B2B connectivity with a wide variety of enterprise applications.

From Blue Hill’s perspective, the most important aspect of this announcement is the level of flexibility that Aria now provides through its Strategy Monetization capabilities. The practical meaning of “multi-dimensional” and “n-tiered” capabilities are that product marketers are no longer confined to pricing and billing new products based on legacy billing and accounting software standards.

Aria’s ability to provide this “if you can think it, you can build it” flexibility is the most important announcement in the subscription billing world for 2016. With this announcement, subscription billing finally comes of age as strategy monetization. At a time when vendors such as Monexa (acquired by Netsuite and now part of Oracle) and Vindicia are being acquired as-is by larger vendors, Aria is continuing to innovate and provide enterprises with legitimate reasons to move ahead with Aria over other larger enterprise vendors that may have acquired their way into subscription billing, but still lack the business flexibility to support this new generation of ad-hoc and client-driven monetization demands.

Aria Systems Announces Aria for Connected Vehicles

On September 20th, Aria announced its Aria for Connected Vehicles offering to support monetization for IoT-enabled vehicles, on-demand transportation, road-use taxation, telematics, aftermarket add-on services, and automotive-specific expertise.

Blue Hill has seen multiple automotive and transportation vendors invest heavily in connected services, but we believe that this market is still in its infancy as vendors have just started to fully understand the value of the behavioral data that they already have, the potential to “IoT-ify” standard parts into intelligent beacons of vehicle and telematic health, and the opportunity to change the pricing of their products and services from an “as-a-part” or “per-month” model to potential usage models such as “per-mile,” “per-use,” or “per-megabyte” as the car’s dashboard and health increasingly become competitive assets for auto services organizations bidding for the right to serve the driver.

Aria is not the only vendor with a “connected car” platform as Ericsson, goTransverse, and Zuora also compete in this space. However, with the combination of these announcements, Blue Hill believes that Aria has provided an important benchmark for monetization flexibility that should make it a top option for business transformation and Connected Car monetization efforts.

FinancialForce

FinancialForce Introduces Billing Central for Everything-as-a-Service Business Models

On September 15, FinancialForce announced FinancialForce Billing Central, an application that links subscription billing, revenue management, and accounting on the Salesforce platform.

The core of subscription billing and monetization is in supporting the Customer Lifecycle from opportunity to client decision to implementation to value mapping to the eventual renewal and evolution of the solution. Because of this, FinancialForce provides a key advantage to Salesforce customers in tracking revenue and monetization on a single, consistent data record.

Blue Hill believes that this direct connection between client activity, monetization, and renewal is extremely important for Salesforce clients seeking a single version of the truth that brings service, sales, and finance together for a 360-degree view of the as-a-Service client.

Fusebill

Fusebill Raises $6M to Grab SME Subscription-Billing Market!

On September 12th, Fusebill announced a $6 million funding round fo focus on small and medium-sized businesses. As part of this round, Kent Thexton, General Partner at ScaleUp Ventures, and Pratik Budhdev, Principal at Langdell Investments, join Fusebill’s Board of Directors with Thexton serving as Chairman of the Board.

Blue Hill finds it interesting that as some of the most mature subscription billing and Strategy Monetization solutions are being acquired by multi-billion dollar vendors, subscription billing solutions are just starting to truly gain adoption in the SMB market. Fusebill is going after a different market than the traditional billing and revenue players as this offering will be focused on long-tail e-commerce and consumer Internet of Things monetization use cases seeking quick implementations. With this funding, Fusebill now has revenue to scale resources and support the next ten million users in this market.

Posted in Banking & Finance, Blog, Communications Service Providers (CSP), Finance & Accounting, Financial Operations | Leave a comment

7 Key BYOD Expense Lessons for the Future of IT

Over the past decade, Bring Your Own Device has evolved from an afterthought to a significant percentage of the IT portfolio for a majority of enterprises. Although few organizations have migrated solely to BYOD, Blue Hill believes that roughly a quarter of enterprises and similar large organizations have a majority of devices managed under BYOD and another 50-60% of enterprises support at least 10% of their devices through BYOD.

The ramifications of BYOD expand far beyond cell phones and smartphones to a larger world of cloud storage, Software as a Services (SaaS), wearables, and edge computing devices that employees will continue to bring into the business world to make themselves more productive. Rather than fight a new battle for each device or service that employees seek to bring into the enterprise, Blue Hill recommends a more integrated model where IT provides a set of standards for financial, technical, and operational management that each proposed employee-submitted technology should meet. This set of standards should be based on key lessons learned from supporting or battling BYOD over the past decade.

To read the rest of this report, please fill out the download form.

7 Key BYOD Expense Lessons for the Future of IT

Posted in Financial Operations, IT Infrastructure, Mobility, Research | Leave a comment

Blue Hill Research Subscription Billing Highlights, August 2016

Blue Hill Research Subscription Billing HighlightsNote: 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, FuseBill, GoTransverse, Intacct, Kenandy, Microsoft, Netsuite, Oracle, Recurly, Salesforce, SAP, Softrax, Spreedly, Vindicia, and Zuora.

Blue Hill’s view of subscription billing and demand-driven monetization comes from the beliefs that
- 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 the business.
- The most important “assets” are customer relationships.
- The subscription economy is an important bridge towards a client-driven, on-demand utilization economy.

Blue Hill notes that August was a busy month for the subscription billing world in which Blue Hill Research spoke with every major vendor regarding current or future announcements. Based on this activity, Blue Hill expects multiple announcements in September from market leaders to support increasing granular dimensionality, configuration, and business flexibility. In addition, Blue Hill believes that subscription billing services serve as attractive acquisition targets for enterprise application companies seeking to support the next wave of growth. Netsuite’s acquisition of Monexa was the tip of the spear, but Blue Hill expects at least one of Aria, goTransverse, Vindicia, or Zuora to be acquired in the next year as larger software vendors look for growth engines to support increased business agility.

goTransverse

goTransverse Dramatically Decreases Average Time-to-Market for New Business Models with Innovative FAST TRACT™ Service Offering

On August 1st, goTransverse announced an accelerated implementation and configuration service offering to help customers get to a production status in less than 90 days.

Blue Hill believes that this acceleration is especially important because the goal of subscription and dynamic billing options are to help companies quickly iterate and experiment with new monetization options based on customer preference. Companies that are unable to quickly execute on customer requests will miss out on months, or even years, of incremental revenue and relationship enhancements due to their inability to act. Given goTransverse’s robust and highly functional capabilities in subscription and dynamic billing, Blue Hill believes this announcement is positive for service providers and enterprises seeking to implement non-traditional billing and revenue models both for existing and new products.

Recurly

Recurly Arms Subscription Businesses With Competitive Advantage Through New Analytics Service

On August 17th, Recurly announced the launch of its analytics capabilities through Recurly Analytics to bring billing, marketing, and customer data together.

Blue Hill believes that this announcement is an important step for Recurly in catching up to other enterprise subscription-billing vendors, most notably Zuora, which has been aggressively promoting its analytics after Zuora’s acquisition of Frontleaf. From a strategic perspective, the key goals of subscription billing are to improve customer engagement on a monthly basis and to gain greater visibility into business health. However, this business understanding requires a careful consideration of billing, payment, and loyalty based on customer-based categorizations of acquisition, retention, demographic, psychographic, and product combinations. Companies lacking visibility and analytic capabilities for subscription-based billing and revenue are not taking strategic advantage of their business model and losing touch with their customers relative to companies using subscription analytics. By launching Recurly Analytics, Blue Hill believes Recurly has taken an important step forward in providing crucial information to key decision makers for revenue and customer engagement.

SAP

SAP PartnerEdge Cloud Choice Helps Partners Accelerate Their Cloud Business and Expand SAP’s Channel Focus

On August 4, SAP announced a new SAP PartnerEdge Cloud Choice option, profit option, that is designed to support SAP’s cloud sales for existing partners that have traditionally been focused on on-premise sales. SAP’s support includes SAP’s direct help in contracts, invoices, and collections associated with providing cloud services.

Blue Hill believes that this is a subtle, but important step in showing SAP’s continued commitment both to the cloud and the necessity of a subscription-based relationship. By supporting the business aspects needed for existing partners to move to a subscription business model, SAP is demonstrating both that subscription billing is a necessary aspect of a cloud business and that partners may not be well-equipped to make this transition by themselves. Blue Hill believes that any large mega-vendor hoping for additional cloud business needs to provide a similar level of subscription billing support to its partners.​

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Blue Hill Research Enterprise Performance Management Highlights: July 2016

Note: To support questions from enterprise buyers and private investors interested in the Enterprise Performance Management market and key events to note, Blue Hill is starting a monthly review of the key announcements made in this space for companies including, but not limited to: Adaptive InsightsAnaplanAxiom EPMHost AnalyticsLongview SolutionsProphixTagetikTidemarkVena SolutionsIBMOracle, and SAP.

Although the EPM market has been fairly quiet in July from a news perspective, Blue Hill saw two interesting funding announcements at the end of July that have repercussions for the financial analytics and the PB&F (Planning Budgeting & Forecasting) world. Don’t let these announcements sneak under your radar!

Tidemark Accelerates Growth with New Investment from Marlin Equity Partners

On July 26th, Tidemark announced a new round of funding from Marlin Equity, an investment firm with over $3 billion in capital under management. As expected, Tidemark stated that this investment was for global expansion.

Blue Hill finds this investment interesting for multiple reasons. First, Tidemark’s approach as a non-cube-based analytics company in the planning and budgeting space is still not standard, which has led to the need to find clients looking for next-generation usability and analytics capabilities.

Second, Tidemark is not the only financial planning and budgeting solution in the Marlin Equity portfolio, as Marlin purchased Longview on July 2014, then merged Longview with arcplan in March 2015 to add arcplan’s analytics. Could this be the next stage of the performance management platform where Longview adds Tidemark’s Hadoop analytics? This would match up well with Workday’s recent acquisition of Platfora to support the emergence of Workday Planning.

We have seen similar activities from Marlin before, as we closely track Marlin Equity-owned Asentinel platform in the technology expense management space and have watched Marlin acquire eMobus and Anatole to add best-in-class mobility and global support capabilities to Asentinel. Keep your eyes peeled!

Vena Solutions Raises $30 Million led by Centana Growth Partners for CPM Growth

On July 25th, Vena Solutions announced a $30 million round to accelerate growth for its Excel-based corporate performance management solution. This round is intended to help Vena continue its 100%+ annual growth and establish a more international footprint.

Blue Hill finds Vena’s approach interesting because it directly conflicts with the status quo in enterprise software. Nearly every enterprise application directly competes against spreadsheets as an ungovernable data store and analytic tool. (And we explored that route ourselves when Blue Hill Research explored the hidden costs of spreadsheets.)

Rather than take that approach, Vena has flipped this idea on its head by providing governance to spreadsheets. Although Vena has started with more standard financial, accounting, and regulatory GRC (governance, risk management, and compliance) use cases, Blue Hill believes that Vena has actually created something that could be much greater in scope: a platform that can actually translate spreadsheets into enterprise-grade applications across any use case. Given the data currently trapped or isolated in spreadsheets, the business value for this capability could be a billion dollar opportunity.

It’s true that this is not going to be either easy or quick to execute given the challenges of finding hidden data, competing against enterprise application investments, and teaching IT about a new way to create applications and data stores. But for anyone who wonders why spreadsheets can’t simply be the de facto interface for data, Blue Hill believes that Vena has taken a novel approach that is now being validated by a market and a round of investment typically associated with rapid market growth.

Posted in Analytics, Blog, Finance & Accounting, Financial Operations, General, High-Tech | Leave a comment