Tidemark Leads New Wave of Innovation in Planning and Performance Excellence

Organizations succeed through continuous planning to achieve high levels of performance. For most organizations planning is not an easy process to conduct. Planning software is typically designed for only a few people in the process, such as analysts, or organizations might use spreadsheets, which are not designed for business planning across an organization. Most technologies only allow you to examine the past and not plan for the future. For decades organizations have tried to focus planning on driving better results through higher participation, but they have usually failed, as technology has not advanced enough to support this business need.

Tidemark has been working to help organizations plan and perform more VR_2012_TechAward_Winner_Logoeffectively across business, including finance and operational areas. My colleague Robert Kugel a year ago analyzed the launch of the company. Last fall it came to market with generally available applications that operate across the web and mobile technology. They are designed for business but also illustrate my point about business leading the way to cloud computing. Ventana Research awarded Tidemark our 2012 Technology Innovation Award for Finance, as the company’s efforts make finance more effective and smarter in business planning operations. Tidemark’s focus on the user experience engages users with easy–to-read metrics. The software’s ability to update the plan and let users collaborate has gained it attention from organizations looking for a better approach to planning. Early customers such as Acosta, Chuck E. Cheese’s and G&K have validated its premise of a smarter way for organizations to manage performance through analytics and planning designed for everyone in business.

Using dedicated applications to support a business process like planning is a smart idea. Our recent research into business planning vr_bti_br_whats_important_in_choosing_technologyfound that organizations that use dedicated applications report a level of accuracy of 86 percent, compared to those using spreadsheets at 60 percent. Increasing the accuracy of the plan was the top item (47%) where change could improve the value of the financial and business planning process. More importantly, 82 percent of organizations using dedicated applications indicate they have all or most of the numbers for aligning performance through planning, compared with 39 percent of those using spreadsheets. Businesses struggle to blend planning and business analytics. Integrated business planning that encompasses every department should be available for any range of customer, operational, financial, HR, sales and revenue-related needs.

Tidemark focuses on usability, which our research into business technology innovation found to be very important in 64 percent of organizations, higher than any other evaluation criteria. Its metrics and planning processes are easy for people to read, view and understand, unlike today’s typical mashup of email messages, presentations and spreadsheets, or attempts to push a set of standard charts into a dashboard view, which I have already said to be pathetic.

The new Spring 2013 release is the company’s next major product milestone. It introduces the ability to present analytics and metrics in what the company calls Tidemark Storylines – visual business-focused infographics that are dynamically created to interpret and present information about the business in a past, present and future approach that I have not seen in a product to date. Beyond this tool to help inform business and provide better methods to interpret the data, Tidemark has enhanced the business modeling capabilities that make this all possible, and this is what business analysts will love about the product. By using driver-based planning and other important approaches, the application can help provide a unified view of actual and plan data along with business charts to let users examine what changes are needed or envision what-if scenarios. Addressing one of my personal rants over the last decade, the software’s English statements on the analysis and analytic computations (metric or key indicator) make it easier to understand what you are examining, and you can change a statement to drive the presentation of the analytics. Tidemark’s focus on the visual presentation of business analytics goes well beyond that of the majority of technology suppliers in the market today. It takes only a couple of minutes of seeing the application to understand how the intuitive and interactive charts tell the business story and don’t just present the numbers.

This new release provides advancements in collaboration, vr_ngbi_br_benefits_realized_from_collaborative_biwith annotation and collaborative methods built in as part of the application. For years IT analysts have failed to understand that collaboration is the essence of what people do every day to drive improvement, and what those held accountable for business actually need. Our technology innovation research found collaboration to be the second most important priority after analytics, and having collaboration embedded within applications was the preferred method in 43 percent of organizations, over use of Microsoft Office or standalone tools. Tidemark provides collaboration within the context of the analytics and plan. It is able to integrate a range of comments or a document relevant to the analytics. It can securely store content to help with the need for disclosures, or any level of secured document storage, through a partnership with Box. Our recent research into next-generation business intelligence found that by using collaborative methods, organizations improve decision-making and have better communications than those that do not. I would assume that every organization would like these types of benefits for their business.

The next largest advancement is in how Tidemark allows for rapid configuration to make the application quick to deploy and use for a wide range of analytics and planning needs, no matter how strategic or operational they might be for an organization. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach; the Tidemark application can be adapted easily for any business process or planning needs.

vr_bti_br_technology_innovation_prioritiesAs organizations begin to realize the drawbacks of using spreadsheets and legacy applications not designed for the planning and performance processes, they will find that almost half (47%) can get to the details faster with dedicated applications compared to those that use spreadsheets alone (21%) or those that use spreadsheets with other applications (16%).  Respondents in our recent benchmark research in business technology innovation ranked business analytics their top priority (39%), in part for their importance in business planning. As organizations look at how to get better at strategic and long-range planning, they need to ensure they spend the right amount of time, as my colleague eloquently points out.

Tidemark partners with Workday to provide its products integrated with Workday’s HR and accounting applications that operate in the cloud, which are rapidly replacing on-premises ERP implementations. Tidemark also takes advantage of big data related to unstructured content using new technologies like its partner Cloudera.

Just investing in business analytics to analyze the past is not sufficient for achieving higher levels of performance. Without planning it is hard to determine what business should do to improve. Tidemark uses cloud computing and mobile technology in a unique way to advance business planning across the enterprise, and is worth your time to evaluate. Tidemark provides a strong foundation, but it should provide easier access for people to try the application for a short period of time, as I believe that once organizations try it, many will become customers. Tidemark can help meet organizations’ planning and performance needs and determine how a business can reach its full potential with its new and innovative release.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Business Leads the Way to Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has given business a new way to improve the effectiveness of business processes and ultimately the outcomes of their efforts. In the last five years, business across marketing, customer service, sales, human resources, finance and other areas have embraced the practice of renting access to the applications and technology they need when they need them. Organizations’ use of operational expense budgets helps them get what they need and avoid IT politics or standards that impeded their agility.

The cloud computing trend that I outlined earlier this year has vr_bti_br_access_preferences_for_innovative_technologiesescaped recognition by traditional IT press and analysts that do not research or assess business, which is just beginning to understand that business does not do just what IT tells it to do. This is especially important because people on the business side are held accountable for the results of their operations and should have a larger voice about what they use to improve their business processes. Over the last year I have seen IT getting more involved in understanding business needs as it looks to add value to business and also to interconnect cloud computing deployments into the enterprise.

Our latest research into technology innovations for business found a significant shift toward the use of on-demand and cloud computing approaches. Business and social collaboration technology had the highest preference for cloud computing at 41 percent, followed by mobile (37%) and social media (35%). Less critical was big data (26%) and analytics (25%), but finding that one out of four respondents prefer cloud computing is significant considering that no more than five years ago the preferred approach was to have IT buy and install all technology. Times have changed, and business is now using what it needs to be more productive and drive the most effective results.

Cloud computing has improved the availability of applications and information, according to a third of organizations (34%), with executives realizing this more predominately (46%). Furthering those efforts is why business continues to lead in the adoption of cloud computing. Those that use it see the largest benefits of the cloud as lowered costs (40%) and improved efficiency of business processes (39%).

vr_bti_br_whats_important_in_choosing_technologyAs business gains the confidence and skills to evaluate applications and tools, we are also seeing a dramatic shift in the factors it uses to evaluate technology. Usability (64%) is significantly more important than validation of a vendor (23%), for example. Having applications that meet the needs of the people who use them is more critical than satisfying IT, which will never use the applications. IT may try to simplify and force business to use applications and technologies from large technology vendors where they get the best deal, but business is more concerned about the use and effectiveness of technology. We are also seeing the smaller vendors earning just as much if not more opportunity to gain credibility with businesses looking to rent and use applications.

One of the challenges in using cloud computing is integration of data from the applications in the cloud with that of on-premises applications, which is very important to 44 percent of organizations.vr_ngbi_br_bi_deployment_preferences As business continues to adopt more cloud applications, they need to synchronize or access more data for a range of business process and analytics needs. Our recent research into next-generation business intelligence found a growing shift to on-demand and cloud computing approaches for business intelligence across mobile, collaboration and even broader enterprise use in a quarter of organizations. We found an openness to supplier-hosted or private cloud computing, along with many organizations that have no preference as to deployment approach. We found business focusing on getting the value of its investment in the most efficient manner, or what we call time-to-value (TTV), and if cloud computing helps in that goal, then it will be adopted.

You should consider how your business can exploit cloud computing, especially in places where you are running older applications or tools that need to be replaced, or where you need new innovations in efficiency or methods to engage customers and promote growth. The largest barrier we found to taking advantage of technology is lack of resources (51%); cloud computing can take fewer IT resources to evaluate, onboard, configure and deploy, and such systems can be managed by people in business departments or divisions. While cloud computing comes out of the general IT budget in more than half of organizations, our research finds that the business budget (35%), line-of-business technology budget (28%) and shared service funded by business (24%) are also major places for investment.

Cloud computing is less of a benefit of any one vendor’s products but rather an approach that can give business a competitive advantage. Businesses should evaluate cloud-based solutions whenever they evaluate new investments. As your organization examines business applications and discusses how to accelerate your time to value, consider how cloud computing can become a critical path to meeting your business and IT needs.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer