Cloud9 Moves Performance Management into the Front Office
May 21, 2010

Many businesses need to improve the performance of their front-office operations, including sales and marketing and business operations. Cloud9 Analytics has years of experience in helping organizations manage their sales pipelines and brought sales analytics to cloud computing through software as a service (SaaS). I have written about their efforts (See: "Cloud9 Analytics Make Sales Pipelines Deliver Results"), noting that  a company depends on the process of sales personnel booking business and delivering purchases to customers promptly to reach its financial targets. Cloud9 Analytics has delivered these capabilities to large organizations like Avaya, BT, Lenovo and Siemens and to midsize organizations, too.

Now Cloud9 Analytics has announced expansion of its core Pipeline Accelerator product across the entire front office and all activities it does to increase revenue; as well as analytics its new offering has planning and collaboration to optimize performance. This is needed as most front offices have silos of data in various systems such as customer relationship management (CRM), sales force automation (SFA), marketing automation and several customer service systems. This incompatibility is a major reason that CRM and SFA have become legacy applications. Users need access to all relevant sources of data whether on-premises or on-demand SaaS from and others; they need better reporting and dashboards in a single application rather than trying to gather data from many sources and analyze it in spreadsheets.

Cloud9's collaboration and planning capabilities enable sales and marketing organizations to work together within the application instead of losing time and context by communicating through separate e-mail messages. The enhanced Pipeline Accelerator provides threaded discussion forums not available in generic business intelligence (BI) technologies that do not address the business need for collaboration. The dispersed locations of sales and marketing organizations increase the need for collaboration to help ensure that all steps in closing deals get done.

Cloud9 Analytics also has a cloud computing platform for performance management that supports data access and analytics. As well as a robust data modeling environment with built-in data virtualization, it allows users to rapidly define measures, metrics and key performance indicators for a range of front-office tasks. Over time the platform has advanced the fundamentals of time-series analysis that can help provide new methods of understanding and managing information. Cloud9 also makes the platform available for partners to build vertical-industry applications that can operate in the cloud.

Cloud9 Analytics recently outlined its planned expansion to support sales forecasting, eliminate the distinction between pipeline and forecast management and add territory management and planning. It is also expanding support for Oracle CRM On Demand and will support mobile technologies. These advances are part of the company's roadmap, which is intended to deliver performance management for the front-office operations of sales and marketing, which most organizations have yet to address.

The market for this kind of capability in the front office is growing as more vendors see opportunity in it. Many of Cloud9 Analytics' competitors are BI vendors that have been marketing and selling their products to IT and just now are moving into sales analytics but lack integrated collaboration, planning and performance management focused on specific front-office activities. Others in the sales performance management space, such as Callidus Software, Merced Systems, Varicent and Xactly, have focused on post-sales activities related to compensation, incentives, quotas, territory management and analytics to related to them; this group has not addressed the presales activities let alone interaction with marketing. Now Cloud9 will compete with all these providers for the mindshare of heads of sales and sales operations; one selling point for them could be integrating quota and incentive metrics into Cloud9 views, which is available today. Most sales and marketing organizations are still copying and pasting data from reports into spreadsheets and creating static presentations that are sent by e-mail, a process that increases cost, time and risk and impedes an organization from reaching its front-office objectives.

If Cloud9 Analytics stays focused on the front office and distinguishes itself by adding performance management to analytics, it has an opportunity to strengthen its position in the market. This new focus has created more confidence in investors as Cloud9 has raised more capital to expand its operations.Another plus is that this business-focused approach of Cloud9 Analytics can minimize IT involvement because of the SaaS rental approach that speeds the time to implementation and value for the front office.

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Mark Smith - CEO & EVP Research


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