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 Mark Smith
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Profile of Mark Smith

News & Commentary Posts: 87
Mark is responsible for the overall direction of Ventana Research and drives the global research agenda covering both business and technology areas. He defined the blueprint for Information Management and Performance Management as the linking together of people, processes, information and technology across organizations to drive effective results.
Articles by Mark Smith

How Sweet is SAP Business Suite 7?

2/12/2009
Just in time for Valentine's Day and your C-Suite of CEO, CFO, COO and CIO budget review, SAP has announced Business Suite 7, which is the latest version of the company's on-premise enterprise-level application suite... SAP has worked for many years to bring this major version to market, but there are many business technology priorities for 2009 that have to be reconciled with an examination of SAP Business Suite 7 as purchase for this year or next...

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MicroStrategy 9 Brings Simplicity and Sophistication to BI

1/15/2009
I attended MicroStrategy's 12th annual user conference in Las Vegas this week where the company unveiled version 9, the next major step for its BI platform. This release brings more than 8,000 enhancements and upgrades along with new products through advancements to the platform and suite of tools to support broad enterprise deployments as well as departmental and workgroup deployments no matter what size of business you operate...

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Can HP Neoview Survive and Thrive?

12/3/2008
HP has for many years capitalized on the data warehouse industry through its server and storage technologies, but in recent years has launched the HP Neoview data warehouse to play in the software and appliance aspect of the industry. While HP was out of the gate in 2007 with Neoview and appeared to have a rosy future, much has changed in the last year...

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Information Builders Resolves Excel Hell

11/20/2008
Microsoft's prescribed antidote to "Excel Hell" won't be available until at least 2010... So why wait years to evaluate a product when there are solutions today?... Last month Information Builders released its latest product, called WebFocus InfoAssist, which brings a range of BI capabilities for business and IT for easily accessing, analyzing and publishing data across the enterprise.

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Salesforce.com Customers Crave Application Leadership

11/6/2008
Salesforce.com opened the second day of its annual conference with even more splash as it focused on its applications for business... What was interesting was talking to customer executives at the event who were looking for leadership on how to help them manage and operate sales, and gain easy access to information and data within applications - from reporting and analytics to understanding how to best interact and optimize customer relationships. This is where more clarity is needed...

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Salesforce Elevates Cloud Computing Force

11/4/2008
Salesforce.com opened its annual Dreamforce conference yesterday with the usual fanfare to introduce CEO and chairman, Marc Benioff... who said the company is doubling down on making its customers successful... What we have not seen is how salesforce.com will help customers better manage CRM efforts across line-of-business areas...

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In an Economic Maelstrom, How Bad is Your Performance Management?

10/29/2008
It's obvious to everyone that we are in turbulent times as economic challenges rattle the globe. The question is whether the post-mortem analysis and diagnosis of the causes and symptoms of this mess will focus on the right areas and help minimize future failures... Let's be honest. Organizations have not managed their businesses using systems to understand current performance and risk in a common, enterprisewide fashion.

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Infor Adds 'MyDay' Interface and SaaS Apps

10/21/2008
At Infor's annual "Inforum" conference in Las Vegas last week, I saw a significant step toward helping everyday business users access information in a new, Web-based interface called Infor MyDay... Infor has also stepped boldly forward where others have had limited success to make the new applications available in an on-demand manner as subscription-based software-as-a-service offerings.

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Is Microsoft Thinking Bigger or Catching Up?

10/9/2008
At its second annual BI conference, Microsoft offered a glimpse into what the future holds for its products... Microsoft believes it is leading the democratization of business intelligence around the world through its release of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and future development projects that were officially unveiled. But is Microsoft thinking bigger or just catching up?

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BI and Performance Management Evolve at SAP-Business Objects

8/19/2008
I have been critical of the integration of Business Objects and SAP in the past, but many solid steps in the right direction are simplifying the complexities I've blogged about. Business Objects provided answers at last week's Influencer Summit that increase my confidence significantly on their product roadmap...

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Actuate Integrates Open Source, Courts BI Developers

8/10/2008
I attended the Actuate user conference last week where they brought forward a series of new advancements utilizing open source and new platform capabilities... Actuate is extending support for Rich Internet Applications as the need for information across businesses and to consumers requires very scalable platforms...

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Is Oracle Really Ready for BI and EPM?

7/31/2008
Instead of just making a broad set of statements on the recent Oracle announcements made on July 16th, this is a little more depth and perspective that might be useful for you as you think about Oracle and their BI and performance management approach to the market... The devil is in the details of these announcements and the impact on your review or use of these products needs to be clear and precise.

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Open Source BI: Spawned by Commoditization or Complexity?

7/1/2008
I was at last week's Open Source BI Summit sponsored by Sun and it was interesting to see a presentation by Mark Madsen asserting that Open Source is taking hold due to the commoditization of software in the market... Let me take a contrarian position... I believe that the complexities of BI are driving new markets like open source...

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BI & SaaS: Challenging Conventional Wisdom

6/12/2008
We are seeing organizations that were previously handcuffed by IT inaction and lack of focus on BI now turning to software as a service (SaaS)... The combination of BI and SaaS introduces the concept of "BI as a Service" that can complement or be an alternative way of accelerating business intelligence in an organization.

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Informatica Bets Big on Information Economy

6/6/2008
This week at Informatica's annual user conference in Las Vegas, the company announced a role in the information economy that spans from its historical focus on the enterprise to a new focus of supporting specific data integration needs of outsourcing, software as a service and business-to-business markets... Informatica hopes to be the key provider of technology for enabling information management across and inside businesses and industries.

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Information Builders Elbows In With Predictive Analytics

6/3/2008
I attended the Information Builders annual conference this week... where they announced and demonstrated a predictive analytics tool called RStat, which is built on top of the R open source project. The movement to provide deeper analytics has been evolving over the last decade, and this year we have already seen new industry partnerships focused on predictive analytics...

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Why IT Might Be in Big Trouble - Again

4/30/2008
IT has lost touch with reality as they have been disconnected from the situation in business and do not seem to be concerned about it... IT is apparently responding by shifting focus to data management rather than worrying about or focusing on the capabilities needed by business...

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Why Business Should Be Mad as Hell at IT

4/23/2008
The state of information adequacy across business has never been worse. The percentage of IT budgets allocated to improving decision support and business intelligence for business and the underlying information management technologies is now a miniscule fraction of total spend by IT for business. Even worse, the time it takes to implement improvements is dire...

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HP Software Advances and Transforms

4/17/2008
The motivation for the transformation at HP is to be relevant in not just hardware, with servers, storage technology and related services and outsourcing aimed at helping CIOs to transform infrastructure to drive improvements in the efficiency of data centers. The question is, how relevant can HP Software become?

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Software as a Service: Are You Prepared?

3/24/2008
The economic environment has placed increased pressure on organizations to use their IT budgets and resources wisely... Software as a service (SaaS) alternatives could be a great opportunity to deliver business value and avoid long IT cycles... But nothing comes so easily without precautions and warnings.

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BI Chaos Escalates with SAP-Business Objects Combination

1/22/2008
SAP announced they achieved an ownership milestone to move forward with their acquisition of Business Objects and the formation of new subsidiary of SAP focusing on business user needs like BI and Performance Management along with Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC)... SAP also announced new solution packages, and you need to assess the "gotchas" in these offerings.

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Be Skeptical about BI Predictions and Trends

1/2/2008
Happy New Year! Have you ever wondered why every year in December we hear all these new BI predictions and trends for the following year? Well after being in the BI market for now 20 years, I have become more skeptical than optimistic about much of this hoopla. While they might sound interesting you should clearly examine the sources of information. If they come from a technology vendor executive, do they result in pushing their company's agenda...

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Oh Oracle - Let's Be Honest Now!

11/16/2007
This week is Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco and it is one of the largest enterprise software conferences in the industry... Listening in to one of the keynotes by Thomas Kurian, Senior Vice President, Fusion Middleware of Oracle on Tuesday, he reviewed a broad range of updates to their technology platform. There were many positive advancements and points in the presentation of Oracle's Fusion middleware, but one point should not be left without comment...

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Teradata: New Choices For a New Tiger in Analytics

11/14/2007
An important event for Teradata occurred recently when it completed its spin out from parent company NCR. The company also announced third-quarter revenue of $375 million, which puts it well on the way to $1.5 billion in revenue for 2007. I'm sure you all know Teradata for its focus on data warehousing, but the company has also been building a robust set of analytics solutions that span line-of-business and vertical industries.

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IBM (Not So Stubborn After All) Digest Cognos

11/12/2007
Considering that it has placed brands like Tivoli, Rational, Lotus and WebSphere at the same level, IBM is spending a lot of money to place Cognos under Information Management, which is focused on middleware technology and infrastructure. There are some great synergies between Cognos BI and IBM Information Management group where they have a great opportunity to have deeper integration, but...

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IBM Software Group: Visionary, Conservative or Just Stubborn?

11/9/2007
In areas like BI and IT management, you can't consider IBM as your strategic supplier, so you have to look elsewhere or count on consulting services to fill in product and technology gaps. IBM has a lot more potential, as even IBM executives recognize, so it has to determine if it can ignore these markets. Will IBM step up and acquire more companies, or will it build new products to fill these voids? Either way, I think it's time they fill a few strategic needs.

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The Not-So-Good at the Business Objects Meeting

10/29/2007
Following up on my last post about all the good things I encountered at Business Objects' recent user conference in Orlando, Fla., here are a few looming and, in some cases, troubling aspects of what's ahead for customers in the wake of the pending SAP acquisition. For instance, Business Objects is very bullish on its approach to enterprise performance management (EPM), a topic highlighted in many executive keynotes at the event... Despite all the reassuring words, I have my doubts about what li

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The Good at Business Objects' User Conference

10/29/2007
My trip to the recent Business Objects user conference in Orlando, Fla., revealed many good surprises as well as many big questions yet to be answered. Business Objects founder and chairman Bernard Liautaud addressed the deal during the opening of the event, and his comments quickly transitioned to those of SAP CEO Henning Kagermann (by way of video)... But with many forks in the path ahead for customers and partners of Business Objects, Kagermann's video instilled little comfort.

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IBM's Info On Demand Strategy: Complex, Evolutionary, Important

10/16/2007
In the second annual IBM Information On Demand Conference this week, a series of new advancements were brought forward in information management. IBM has been on a multi-year transformation of its content, data and information focus through a number of technology supplier acquisitions over the last three years. These deals have been slowly advancing the IBM software product portfolio for a broader range of capabilities.

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SAP-Business Objects Deal Heralds Rocky 2008

10/9/2007
If you think the SAP-Business Objects deal will not impact you, you are mistaken. Even if you do not own technology from Business Objects or SAP, the products you do own have probably been acquired within the last two years. Cognos, Infor, Microsoft and Oracle have all have made acquisitions and are also quite ready to battle for your BI, performance management and operational IT dollars. But all of these acquisitions increase the time required by vendors to support tighter integration for appli

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SAP Business ByDesign - One Step at a Time

9/21/2007
With Business ByDesign, SAP is adding another branded application suite to its portfolio that goes beyond the three on-premise suites it already has for large, medium and small businesses. The on-demand applications suite focuses on midsized firms with 100 to 500 employees and provides a new area for growth for the company. Yes, there is more fanfare, but the application suite is not yet ready for primetime.

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Can Salesforce.com Make the Dream a Reality?

9/19/2007
Salesforce.com and its dyanamic CEO and chairman, Marc Bennioff, are at it again. The company is positioned to take on the vast majority of the broader enterprise applications and platform software market. Directly competing with IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP and others, it is challenging the conventional wisdom of the on-premise approach of purchasing, installing and configuring software across large, medium and small sized organizations. In fact, it is now taking on the broader platform mark

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Business Objects for Sale?

9/17/2007
Reported over the weekend by Reuters was that Business Objects had hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer of the billion dollar plus business intelligence (BI) provider... Is this report just more of the continued discussions of market consolidation in BI market and finding the best return for shareholders? No comment, of course, from official channels at Business Objects, but clearly something is brewing.

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Can Microsoft Performance Point Perform for You?

8/22/2007
Microsoft is on the final leg of their journey to release its dedicated BI technology to support performance management... Microsoft PerformancePoint is a platform and set of tools that includes the long-awaited version of Microsoft Excel Server... The group of products is a critical first step toward becoming an enterprise-class vendor, but is it a large enough first step? I'm not sure yet, but let's look at a couple of examples and see what you think.

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Oracle 11g: Expanding the Definition of Database

8/14/2007
Oracle continues to push the envelope of what a database is and can deliver for transactional and analytical processing, while adding utility capabilities in areas such as content management and search. Oracle has positioned 11g well against its traditional database competitors; beyond that, it will have to ensure its product is not seen as too complex for specific uses in data warehousing, content management, search and analytics.

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Oracle Touts Leadership: Should We Believe Them?

8/9/2007
Oracle has gained a lot of weight in the BI market with their recent acquisition of Hyperion... The company is aggressively pushing its new agenda and is stating its differentiation as having the first complete, integrated, end-to-end enterprise performance management system. I am not sure what Oracle's definition of "complete and integrated" is, but at best it is loosely coupled, with different generations of BI technologies and performance management applications yet to be fully integrated...

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Data Discovery: A Tool for Information Management

7/26/2007
We all need to understand better how to establish cost-effective information management strategies. As part of this effort, we need to identify methods and technologies that can automate and improve data processing... The silos of data generated over the last decade continue to grow and to challenge organizations as they look to gain a consistent view of their operations... Data discovery is one way to identify data that should be assimilated into a common definition...

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Your IT Portfolio Could Be Bleeding Money

7/12/2007
As CIOs and IT management come under pressure to invest in the future, they're finding they need an even more thorough knowledge of their existing IT portfolios, what they can do, where they fall short and their worth to the company. Yet I find that many IT managers do not have enough information - about what technologies they actually have, how well they are performing and how much they cost - to make wise decisions about budget allocations.

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Are You Ready for (Google) Location Intelligence?

6/27/2007
Google is offering its mapping capabilities as a potential source of enterprise-class business intelligence in the area of location intelligence. Google has made its Google Maps for the Enterprise available at a low cost while providing telephone and e-mail support. The challenge for you is to decide whether this offering can meet your enterprise needs.

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Microsoft Buys Stratature to Master Data

6/8/2007
Microsoft has announced its acquisition of Stratature, a master data management (MDM) vendor that supports the definition, sharing and maintenance of reference data. Stratature's technology is used by organizations with analytical master data challenges in which master data changes over time in financial, product and customer hierarchies. Microsoft lacked a solid position and technological approach to MDM and was under competitive pressure to respond.

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Do BI Vendors Want SOA Now?

6/5/2007
It was interesting to see at IBM's recent Impact 2007 event on service-oriented architecture (SOA) that the only business intelligence (BI) vendor exhibiting to demonstrate interfaces to IBM's SOA technology was Actuate… Few BI vendors have been motivated to go beyond the fundamentals; the BI market seems a little insulated from the SOA and enterprise architecture transformations.

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Business Impact from SOA? Yes, SOA

6/1/2007
In an article two years ago, I wrote that service-oriented architecture (SOA) was technobabble, not strategic technology. In 2006 I noted that SOA was moving beyond chatter. Well, in later May IBM hosted Impact 2007 - an SOA event where people finally talked about it not only from an IT perspective but as real customers who have used SOA to deliver business value to their organizations. That's good progress.

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SAP Improves Outlook on Performance Management

5/21/2007
SAP has decided to retool its financial performance management offering. Why? The reason is the business software giant's announced acquisition of OutlookSoft… OutlookSoft comes with a strong Microsoft-based technology approach and capabilities for budgeting, planning, consolidation, reporting and analysis. If it can harness these, SAP has the potential to be a significant player for financial performance management.

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Does IBM Understand BI?

5/7/2007
IBM software executives have long insisted that [BI] components are applications and not middleware and that IBM is not in the applications business. Recently, though, that monotone is fading, to be replaced by a new note: They now say "No Comment," or when they do comment, talk about Hyperion-like technology as though this part of the BI market involves just the writing and delivering of reports.

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TIBCO Spots Opportunity in Analytics

5/3/2007
We are seeing the market for analytics change again with TIBCO's announcement that it plans to acquire Spotfire, a rapidly growing provider of analytics for operations management. This merger will bring analytics to a leading information bus and business process management provider… TIBCO's CEO, Vivek Ranadivé, espouses the building of a predictive business, something that cannot be accomplished without analytics…

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Do You Have Business Intelligence?

5/1/2007
It's sad but true that in most organizations "business intelligence" is something of an oxymoron. The term ought to refer to the ability to ascertain the state of a company's performance and then to determine its future direction and strategy by applying information and metrics… Many companies fall short… but a self-assessment can show you where new investments are necessary to spread BI to everyone in your organization.

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Business Objects Leads Financial Tech Shakeup

4/24/2007
If you work in finance or IT, yesterday was a big news day, with Business Objects announcing it will acquire Cartesis, Oracle finalizing its acquisition of Hyperion and SAP announcing at its Sapphire user conference that it will resell Acorn Systems' costing and profitability technology. So shakeup was the word of the day in financial performance management, and there was no doubt that Business Objects made a smart move.

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Oracle and SAP: Fur Flies as Executive Jumps Ship

3/29/2007
It's been an interesting week for the two giants slugging it out in the business software marketplace. First Oracle filed suit against SAP for intellectual property intrusions into its Internet-based repository of product support information... Also this week came the resignation of Shai Agassi, the president of SAP's product and technology group. It was hardly a surprise.

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Prof. Davenport Misses the Point of Analytics

3/26/2007
I recently sat in on a keynote presentation by Thomas Davenport of Babson College, who wrote a much-touted article on analytics in Harvard Business Review last year. He identified analytics as a competitive market advantage and illustrated his point with some case studies. It's certainly important to recognize their value, but analytics alone are only a small part of what is missing in business today.

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The Business Bottleneck May Be Technology

3/16/2007
Too often, businesses get little information in return for the millions of dollars they spend on information technology. We've built silos of BI tools attached to ERP and CRM systems that aren't designed to communicate common objectives across business. Even data warehouse efforts haven't automated information processes, instead creating poorly structured libraries of data that business users may not be able to find or access.

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Score One for Oracle: Can SAP Stay in the Game?

3/1/2007
It has been clear for a while that Oracle needed to make a strategic acquisition to elevate its standing with corporate finance organizations, so few were surprised when Oracle announced today its intention to acquire Hyperion. When it comes to Finance, Hyperion is, after all, the biggest kid on the block from customer, revenue and product-line perspectives... The most interesting question out of today's announcement, though, concerns not Oracle but its rival SAP.

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Is SAP Ready for BI?

2/21/2007
The market for BI has never been more vibrant, or the interest by midsized to large organizations in adopting BI greater. Yet in the face of this opportunity, I continue to hear reports of unrest on the part of companies using SAP for BI - reports about its lack of enterprise capabilities and the usability of the technology. SAP has declared it understands the importance of BI, but it has yet to offer cutting-edge products.

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The BS in Business Intelligence

1/30/2007
In the last year, corporate management seems to have gained a better understanding of what business intelligence (BI) means to organizations. Executives finally are realizing that information about performance and the metrics that measure it are keys to improving their bottom line. Yet even so, they have invested far less in efforts to support BI than in other areas of information technology.

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Breakthrough Analysis: Enterprise Search: Time To Get Serious

9/12/2006
The rise of Google, Yahoo and specialized search providers has radically altered our perception of information access, yet enterprise search implementations haven't kept up with the transformation in the consumer world. Plenty of vendors are developing breakthroughs, but the missing player has been Microsoft, and many believe progress in enterprise search is being held hostage by long and unwieldy upgrade cycles for systems including Windows, Office and SharePoint. Look beyond quick fixes and br

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People Power

10/28/2004
Organizations can only go so far to improve performance before they must address their most important asset: the workforce. Competitive forces are pushing managers to look beyond HR and ERP systems and embrace performance management.

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IT's Reputation: What the Data Says
IT's Reputation: What the Data Says
InformationWeek's IT Perception Survey seeks to quantify how IT thinks it's doing versus how the business really views IT's performance in delivering services - and, more important, powering innovation. Our results suggest IT leaders should worry less about whether they're getting enough resources and more about the relationships they have with business unit peers.
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