Ventana Research Technology Innovation Awards Are More Than Cool

In the realm of technology that matters for business and IT, our firm as part of our responsibility continually assesses the latest technology and how it can impact organizations’ efficiency and effectiveness.2013_Tech_Innovation_Award Our benchmark research in technology innovation found that 87% of participants indicated the importance of increasing the organization’s value through technology innovation. Every year we take our knowledge from research and technology briefings to focus on our Technology Innovation Awards and determine the vendors and products that have the potential to drive change in the market, the competitiveness of an organization’s business and sometimes just how efficiently a company operates. Our firm believes that Innovation can come from any size technology vendor from the smallest to the largest that are measured on a spectrum of attributes that contribute to the specific impact of the technology.

Our process with the Technology Innovation Awards is to separate out and find the vendors and products that have innovative technology that has the most potential and might be game changing or what might be just a necessity for organizations to use to compete in the market. We methodically assess and score those technologies according to more than 26 categories, and then rate and validate within each category to determine the winner of the Technology Innovation Award. Our methodology looks at the relevance of key aspects of technology, including people, processes, information and technology, along with any best practices for applying the technology and the resulting potential impact and benefits to organizations. To apply an additional lens on the technologies being assessed  we also employ the technology evaluation categories (functionality, capability, reliability, manageability, adaptability, TCO and ROI, and vendor validation) that we use to methodically assess vendors and products in our Value Indexes. This year we have kept a closer eye on usability of technology and where it can have use across a larger number of individuals in an organization or easier to use for a specific set of people or department, as our research found that usability had the highest level of importance for technology and vendor consideration in 64% of organizations.

Our award categorization makes it self-evident where the technology is relevant and is part of our research focus that is built around innovative technology, as I previously outlined. In the end our Technology Innovation Awards are not just about being a cool vendor but about having innovative technology in either a shipping product or one coming to market in the near future that is worth recognition.

According to our research, almost half of organizations (49%) are planning to change the way they assess and select innovative technology for business and IT through 2014. With that backdrop let me introduce you to the Technology Innovation Award recipients for 2013 so you can see for yourself what technologies could change how your organization operates significantly.

Business Technology

Business Innovation

Operational Innovation 

IT Innovation

If you want to learn about technology innovation and see examples including from ones that received a Technology Innovation Award, come to our Technology Innovation Summit. At the summit you’ll learn why it’s critical to assess innovation and look beyond what you are doing today to determine where you can make changes to drive improvement. Our research found that organizations are changing the way they evaluate innovation technology mostly to drive business improvement initiatives (60%) and improve the quality of business processes (57%). If you want advice or guidance to help you leverage technology innovations, just let me know, as we are always happy to help organizations be smarter and faster.

Congrats to this year’s award recipients for innovations that are worthy of our recognition and your time to see where they might help your organization.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Xactly What Sales Needs To Improve

In addressing the needs of their sales and operations teams to automate and improve performance, many organizations turn to providers of sales applications designed for specific activities. Many of these activities, including sales compensation, incentives, commissions, quotas, territories and others, Xactly has been delivering for years. This company is no newcomer to the market, with significant experience in meeting the needs of small to midsize sales organizations, and more recently addressing the needs of larger ones. 

We have been tracking Xactly for some time. At the beginning of this year we released our Value Index on Sales Performance Management, which we believe is the most comprehensive research on the vendors and products dedicated to optimizing sales processes and performance. In this research, we rated Xactly a Hot Vendor, the highest level of accomplishment in our in-depth research. Our analysis found that its application suite has a well-balanced approach to the key aspects of usability, manageability, reliability, adaptability and functionality and had made significant advancement since our previous analysis. Since then, Xactly has continued to advance its capabilities to further its growth in the market.  

Xactly offers a suite of modules tightly integrated with Xactly Incent, the company’s foundation application for sales. With the release of Xactly Incent 7.1, the applications are available on smartphones. In addition, for sales representatives on commission, the company has released  Plan Illustrator, which provides a visual map of a commission plan, tracks representatives’ progress to quota and estimates potential commissions. With Xactly Estimator sales can quickly calculate commissions within its application and also within salesforce and Oracle SFA. They also added expanded effective dating support for rate tables at assignment level along with related quotas. As well it has retrofitted the Xactly Territories applications’  data integration capabilities with order systems and other critical data. Flexibility of integrating data is important, as our benchmark research found difficulty in preparing data for analysis to be the largest source of dissatisfaction in sales analytics; sales organizations spend two-thirds of their time on data-related tasks rather than analytic ones.  

Xactly eDocs & Approvals can now dynamically route payments through sales and finance managers for approval – that is critical for improving clarity in payments. For improving manageability Xactly has added an administrative dashboard for sales operations it calls myHome, which helps staff members know what needs to be addressed across sales-related activities and processes. Xactly already had robust reporting and analytics, which has been one of its core differentiators in the market. I personally like how Xactly has made sales a contest for achievement that can be seen in its ranking pods that provides notification on achievement ranking for individuals and teams that can be easily access on smart phones like Apple and RIM Blackberry. The company also provides what it calls a sandbox – an isolated environment in which organizations can work with their applications safely and securely to test changes before placing them into production. 

I expect to see even more advances in Xactly’s application suite, along with more support for smartphones and tablets to enhance access to and mobility of the applications. Xactly is focused on advancing automation and improving the sales processes in order to increase the confidence and selling focus of sales organizations. It’s worth considering to help your organization become more effective across the range of activities in sales operations.  


Mark Smith 

CEO & Chief Research Officer