Ventana Research Analyst Perspectives provide unique fact-based insights and education on business, industry and technology vendor trends. Each Analyst Perspective presents the voice of the analyst, typically a practice leader and established subject matter expert,  reporting on new developments, the findings of benchmark research, market shifts and best practice insights. Each Analyst Perspective is prepared in accordance with Ventana Research’s strict standards for accuracy and objectivity and reviewed to ensure it delivers reliable, actionable news and insights.  

New Generation of Human Resources Management Systems

Ventana Research defines a human resources management system (HRMS) as the set of applications and associated processes that store and manage the employee information used by an organization’s human resources department. New technologies make it possible for the HRMS to perform better and be easier to use by HR professionals and members of the workforce. The range of evolving technologies impacting the development of the HRMS includeVR_HRMS_BenchmarkResearch business analytics, big data, cloud computing, mobile technology, business collaboration, social media and wearable computing. These advances enable organizations to streamline the processes that the HRMS supports and more efficiently take advantage of competencies that already exist in the workforce. The changes are so substantive for organizations and their HR departments that we have undertaken new research calledNext-Generation Human Resources Management Systems.

As well as becoming more efficient in their HR processes, employers want to ensure that their employees can interact easily with HR managers and feel satisfied with these relations. This is facilitated by using new methods such as collaboration through mobile devices. In addition companies today have to manage greater amounts of information than ever before related to benefits and policies and be able to provide specific, relevant information directly to employees at any time. Employers also have to comply with a range of employment rules and required benefits such as the Affordable Care Act for healthcare in the United States. In this context of information overload the HRMS should be able to use big data technologies to become a strategic tool that helps both HR and employees have complete and relevant information about employment.

The basic use of the HRMS is to hold essential information about an organization’s employees. Until recently HRMSs were stand-alone systems that maintained seldom-changing information and were used by only a few people in the HR department. The HRMS, and indeed the HR function in general, was seen as dedicated to keeping records, providing input for payroll, overseeing related compliance processes and managing benefits including healthcare, time off and others not related to compensation. Employees and managers had limited access to self-service capabilities, not to mention ready availability of it on a variety of devices.

This perception has begun to change in recent years. Other types of applications, such as talent management and workforce management, have been introduced into human resources processes, and HRMSs often must share information with them. Such systems potentially expand the kinds of information available to managers and those who work for them. In addition, innovative technologies including richer analytics have expanded the ways this wealth of information can be used and the array of roles – line-of-business managers, executives and even individual employees – that can benefit from using it. Business analytics can highlight the types and quality of talent a company possesses – and needs. Ubiquitous access to HR information through smartphones and tablets improves the reach and speed with which employees and managers access information and promotes sharing, communication and understanding. Embedded social collaboration tools connect employees more effectively and impact metrics such as employee engagement and time to productivity.

Thus the HRMS can play a strategic role in human capital management. HR professionals now can have applications and tools that support a range of workforce processes and also help the rest of the organization with their employment and business needs. A modern HRMS also can help engage and retain talent through advanced and more efficient HR practices. This new market research will explore both the evolution of human resources management systems and the roles of new technologies that being added to them. It will evaluate how organizations are integrating their HRMSs with new technologies and their impact on improving HR processes and increasing the value of HR to the organization.

Such changes in HRMSs and other human capital management systems are facilitating an evolution of HR processes. Key focus points of this research will be to examine the changing role of the HRMS in organizations, how new technologies such as business collaboration are being integrated into the HRMS and related applications HR personnel use, how VentanaResearchBenchmark_PayrollManagementthe applications are accessed through mobile devices and finally the perceived value these new technologies add to core HR applications such as the HRMS. The research will detail the specific ways in which the HRMS is evolving from a system that stores basic employee information to one that integrates benefits and payroll along with integration to talent management and workforce management information and applications to provide more useful information for HR and business leaders. Our latest benchmark research on payroll management already shows that more than half (53%) of organizations see employee self-service as important for accessing an individual’s payroll information. The new research will track as well the changing needs of HR for information related to benefits and pay and to compliance with regulations and policies.

The goal of this Next-Generation Human Resources Management benchmark research is to examine how organizations are evolving in using an HRMS and determine the drivers for and benefits of adapting a new technological approach. It will build upon recent benchmark research findings that show that talent management and workforce management systems are critical for organizations as adapt to a new generation of technologies for their workers and employees. This research also will seek to understand how the next-generation technologies listed above are changing the way organizations operate in human capital management processes and to identify the best practices used by innovative companies. It will examine whether and how organizations are choosing to embrace these new technologies in their HR functions. It also will assess how adopting an advanced approach to using an HRMS impacts an organization’s  people, processes, information and technology requirements as well as its productivity.

Come engage in our research and in return receive best practices and insights that can help your organization. Participate.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Genesys Brings G-Force to Powering a Better Customer Experience

I recently joined more than 1,000 users, partners, consultants and other analysts at the first global G-Force 2015 conference, held in Miami. Sponsor Genesys put together an agenda that not only educated but entertained the attendees. For an example of the latter, Sekou Andrews, a poet, actor, musician and voice-over artist, preceded the main keynotes with a wonderful sketch that put customer experience into the context of marriage and reminded us to treat customers as he does his wife, remembering that the customer is always right!

On a more serious note, President and CEO Paul Segre kicked the event off with an overview of the company. He emphasized that Genesys focuses on one thing, which he called an “omnichannel engagement center,” sells one product, the Genesys Customer Experience Platform (which I have written about) and enables one primary goal, next-generation customer experience. Segre also made the distinction that the company provides what he referred to as a “system of engagement” (to manage customer interactions), not a system of record (to manage transactional customer data such as orders, service cases and invoices), though its platform integrates with systems of record such as CRM and ERP. Of course, doing all of this is not simple. A deeper dive shows that the platform supports multiples channels of communication, rules-based routing across all channels, and inbound and outbound communications. It alsoVR2014_TechInnovation_AwardWinner includes agent-assisted service and some self-service capabilities such as IVR; workforce optimization to manage the people side of handling customer interactions; back-office workload management (managing the flow of tasks across business groups and users); and multiple analytics capabilities. All of these capabilities are tightly integrated to support data sharing, processes that flow across systems and ease of administration, through a modern user interface. The totality of these capabilities earned the platform our 2014 Technology Innovation Award.

The capabilities are offered in a variety of bundles, some of which are based on-premises and others in the cloud. Overall the Genesys CX Platform helps companies of all sizes support the technical and people aspects of handling customer interactions. Its analytics produces a comprehensive view of customer, employee and business performance so that companies can assess how well they are meeting customer expectations and business objectives and where improvements are needed.

The various conference sessions outlined upcoming developments in all the component products, and several emphasizedvr_NGCE_Research_06_changes_to_improve_engagement making more of them available in the cloud. These advances will be supplemented by acquisitions and partnerships, two of which were highlighted. The first is a new partnership with Microsoft for its Skype for Business product. Enabling customers and organizations to seamlessly engage through video, voice and instant messages while transferring between these channels without interruption, this partnership will add some emerging communication channels of customer choice to the CX Platform. It also extends the possibilities for collaboration, which our benchmark research on next-generation customer engagement shows is a top priority for companies as they seek to ensure consistency and speed of response in handling interactions.

The second featured partnership is with IBM’s Watson division. As I wrote earlier this year, IBM Watson Engagement Manager will be integrated into the Genesys CX Platform to provide cognitive capabilities for both assisted and self-service. In particular it will enhance the Genesys agent desktop by making responses more personalized and relevant; it also enables an omnichannel customer experience in an environment where most companies still operate multiple, disconnected channels of engagement.

Merijn te Booij, EVP of product and solution strategy for Genesys, did two sessions showing how Genesys is focused on technology development that reflects market demands. In a lighthearted segment he showed how consumer experiences are being disrupted by technologies such as voice-activated commands to change room lighting and electronic alerts if beer supplies are running low in the fridge; as well as amusing this was a timely reminder that customer experience is changing at an unprecedented pace. More seriously te Booij outlined 14 macro trends he predicts will impact CX by the year 2020. Among them are potentially 25 billion devices enabled for the Internet of Things; chat overtaking voice as the most popular channel; artificial intelligence and cognitive computing enabling far-reaching innovations; wearable devices and sensors shifting the CX paradigm from being largely reactive to being more proactive and based on data collected from devices; and video and augmented reality playing a bigger part in visualization of information. As an illustration of the rate of change, some of his other trends seem to me to be here already: seamless connection between assisted and self-service; speech and text analytics supporting real-time analysis; metrics such as NPS and CX being delivered in the cloud; and data management and analytics underpinning all CX activities.

I have written several times that CX excellence is now the true differentiator in customer service but that it is not easy to achieve. It requires a combination of systems to manage channels of engagement, employee-based tasks and transactional data. In my view, above everything else, excellent customer experience requires advanced analytics so companies can monitor and assess performance from customer, employee and business perspectives and take action to improve. G-Force 2015 showed that Genesys and its partners are addressing all of the four dimensions of CX: management of communications channels, employee management, integration with transactional systems, and analytics. I recommend that companies evaluate how Genesys can help them keep up with and even anticipate their customers’ expectations.


Richard J. Snow

VP & Research Director

Tidemark Enables More Effective Business Planning

Tidemark Systems offers a suite of business planning applications that enable corporations to plan more effectively. The software facilitates rapid creation and frequent updating of integrated company plans by making it easy for individual business functions to create their own plans while allowing headquarters to connect them to create a unified view. I coined the term “integrated business planning” a decade ago to highlight the potential for technology to substantially improve the effectiveness of planning and budgeting in corporations, and it remains true that integrating business planning can produce superior results. Companies that maintain direct links between functional or departmental plans more often have a planning process that works well than others. Our next-generation business planning benchmark research shows that two-thirds (66%) of those that maintain such links have a planning process that works well or very well, compared to 40 percent that copy information from individual plans into an overall plan and just 25 percent in which plans have little or no connection.Integrated Planning Works Better

Businesses commonly do a lot of planning within individual silos: There are sales plans, marketing plans, manufacturing plans, R&D plans and various others. However, in most companies the only unified plan is the corporate budget, which is a financial plan used mainly for allocating resources and controlling spending. Because they are focused almost exclusively on monetary consequences, budgets are not especially useful for planning the operations of a company, which requires attention to the things of a business (such as head count, numbers of purchased parts and tons of materials).

Tidemark has made significant progress with its software that I have previously assessed with how it unifies business planning and the company’s Fall 2015 release includes a new feature, Tidemark Complete, that enables companies to benchmark their performance against that of competitors. In almost all organizations, performance reviews compare results against the current plan or the previous quarter or year. While this is essential, it’s insufficient because business is not an “us-vs.-us” game; it’s an us-vs.-them competition. Even so, most companies don’t assess their results against the market because they find it too difficult and time-consuming to assemble the data. Tidemark Complete addresses this issue. The latest release also adds packaged configurations and metrics tailored for the insurance, hospitality and retail industries that enable such companies to accelerate their implementation of Tidemark. In the Spring 2015 release the company introduced packages for higher education and subscription commerce. The subscription commerce app is especially useful for companies with recurring revenue businesses for two reasons. One is that managing these types of businesses requires using metrics that are not directly available from the accounting process. These include the annual recurring revenue (ARR) and annual and total contract value (ACV and TCV). Typically, the finance staff assembles data from one or more sources in desktop spreadsheets to do the calculations, analyze the results and create reports. As well as time-consuming, this method is prone to errors and incompleteness in the data. The second reason is that revenue recognition in subscription businesses is often complex. For planning purposes, it’s useful to be able to automate the translation of booking events into reported revenue because it saves time and results in more accurate projections of future financial statements.

Ventana Research rated Tidemark a Hot Vendor in our 2015 Business Planning Value Index. Tidemark’s software offers all of the capabilities necessary to support state-of-the-art planning. That is, it offers engaging visualization and reporting functionality that enhances understanding and insight in developing plans as well as communicating results. It has workflows to manage plan creation and periodic updates that cut the time and effort required to supervise the process and thus shorten planning cycles. It offers Business Planning Value Indexintegrated analytics to support the planning and review phases of the process as well as Storylines and Playbooks, methods that present an organization’s performance in narrative form with engaging data visualizations. An important reason why companies invest time in creating plans is to set objectives so they can periodically review their performance to those objectives. By organizing all business planning on a single platform, Tidemark allows each planning unit to review its results faster and headquarters to review the overall financial and operational performance sooner. Our research finds that companies that use a dedicated third-party planning application such as Tidemark are more able to uncover details during a review meeting because they can drill down to uncover underlying details while the meeting is under way. This enables managers and executives to get to information that can promote agility and provides an environment that encourages action in the whole organization.

Tidemark also offers built-in social collaboration capabilities in context. Collaboration is essential in the process of planning in corporations because it helps ensure that activities are coordinated. Companies have multiple objectives for their planning processes. Chief among these is accuracy. But since things don’t always go to plan, companies need agility in responding to changes in a timely and coordinated fashion, and collaboration facilitates this also. In a small business, planning can be informal because of the ease of communications between all members and the ease with which plans can be modified in response to changing conditions. In larger organizations the planning process becomes increasingly difficult because communications become compartmentalized locally and diffused across the enterprise. Facilitating collaboration across geographies or business silos addresses the communications issues. Tidemark’s Collaboration is Important to Planningcollaboration capabilities address this issue more readily and completely than email or instant messaging. Setting and changing the company’s course require coordination to ensure that the actions of one part of the organization complement (or at least don’t impede) the actions of others. Better communication across the organization promotes coordination because it enables better understanding of the impact of policies and actions in one part of the company on the rest of it. Yet only 14 percent of companies are able to accurately measure that impact, and fewer than half (47%) have even a general idea. Integrated business planning coupled with a collaboration capabilities addresses that issue.

Using the most capable technology also helps. Using limited tools is a major barrier preventing companies from integrating their planning efforts; spreadsheets in particular are a major Spreadsheets in Planningculprit. Our research reveals that across the spectrum of corporate planning activities, seven out of 10 organizations use spreadsheets to manage their planning processes. Tidemark’s common planning platform for individual departmental and functional plans, plus built-in analytics and reporting and its focus on ease of use, provides a compelling reason to switch from spreadsheets. Also, compared to using spreadsheets, Tidemark’s applications can make the planning process far more interactive by utilizing in-memory processing to speed calculations. When even complex planning models with large data sets can be run in seconds or less, senior executives and managers can quickly assess the impact of alternative courses of action in terms of their impacts on key operating metrics, not just revenue and income. Furthermore, having the means to engage in a structured conversation with direct reports can help executives implement strategy and manage their organization more effectively.

Integrated business planning applications are changing the conversation from a finance-centric approach to one that supports planning operations and finance in parallel. Companies that are dissatisfied with their current approach to business planning and are looking to improve important aspects of it including accuracy, insight, speed and alignment should consider dedicated business planning tools. When they do that, they should consider the kind of software that will enable them to support a better process. We recommend that they include Tidemark in their evaluation.


Robert Kugel – SVP Research


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