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A New Symphony for Performance ManagementA New Symphony for Performance Management

SymphonyRPM brings platform and solutions for operational performance management

InformationWeek Staff

February 13, 2004

6 Min Read

VentanaMonitor™

Summary

Companies' demand to improve business performance has resulted in a new software provider — SymphonyRPM. In response to what Ventana Research declares will be the competitive differentiator for this decade, Performance Management, SymphonyRPM is introducing a new platform and suite of operational performance management solutions. With a team of industry veterans, strong financial backing and the combination of proven technologies, SymphonyRPM brings an alternative to traditional BI offerings. Its focus on simplifying the complexities of operational planning and analysis across the demand and supply chain has brought new technology to market and it is now validated through an initial set of customers and partners.

Assessment

SymphonyRPM is a new provider of Performance Management solutions and a platform for helping organizations provide a broad array of capabilities required to improve business and operational performance. SymphonyRPM is the creation of an industry heavy weight, Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, an experienced executive in the software industry that successfully grew Aspect Development Group as CEO and oversaw the merger with I2 Technologies. Wadhwani's passion and drive to build the next big enterprise applications software company has motivated his recent set of industry consolidation activities.

Wadhwani, as the head of Symphony Technology Group, an equity investment firm, has also masterminded the recent acquisition and privatization of Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) (see: Symphony and Tennenbaum Make Tender Offer for IRI ) which is one of the two largest suppliers of market research data to consumer packaged goods and retailers. This acquisition and privatization of IRI will provide SymphonyRPM an opportunity to engage with hundreds of corporations that already use IRI data for making operational and market decisions. IRI has declined in value and growth over the last five years because of its lack of vision and the selling of its 'software soul' to Oracle in 1995 through the asset sale of the now Oracle Express-based technology, tools and applications.

The formation of SymphonyRPM is bringing a new application platform, Real-time Performance Management (RPM) Framework, that provides sophisticated analytics and collaborative workflow for business modeling, planning, analysis, and monitoring. The platform provides an enterprise context that can look at historical and potential future operational performance and is unique in its ability to provide the planning and scenario based capabilities that are lacking from most traditional BI platforms and tools. SymphonyRPMs unique positioning is its ability to perform the broad spectrum of operational planning from one platform and link it to financial plans through a unified approach to business modeling.

The platform brings together integration technologies, analytics and workflow technology in a unique application-centric approach. Built on rich analytic server technology from WhiteLight Systems acquired in 2002 and proven in a multitude of large organizations, the platform provides a shared enterprise data model that leverages patented metadata drive rules and data lineage technology, for sophisticated calculations and what-if scenario planning. On the front end, SymphonyRPM built an application framework that leverages the Alphabox technology for easy to use web-based analytic components. On the platform side, SymphonyRPM tightly integrated with, and operates on, IBM WebSphere Server and Ascential DataStage and other technologies for data and information integration respectively.

This sophisticated platform is brought together to build a new class of applications aligned to a very specific set of financial services and operational performance management needs.

  • MarketRPM allows marketing managers to instantaneously see the performance of market activities and programs like promotion planning that must be linked with financial and operational performance. By managing marketing and sales spend and analyzing product and market performance the application provides business users a simplified approach to improving operational effectiveness.

  • OperationsRPM enables operations management across sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution to have a cross functional view of sales and operations planning and tie together demand, supply and financial management. Through sophisticated outcome based models, functions like capacity planning, allocations and leveraging inventory are integrated together and fully maximized.

  • CostRPM facilitates supply chain management and business to manage the supply chain effectively by understanding the impact of changes from suppliers and the resulting implications to customer relationships. Through real time monitoring and analysis, business users can synchronize sourcing and operational demand and collaborate via workflow.

  • CapitalRPM enables financial managers in financial institutions to manage risk of portfolio changes and with outcome based scenarios can make better decisions. Through real time information integration, managers can manage capital allocation for performing portfolio analysis, profitability management, enterprise and credit risk management and even support European Basel II capital adequacy tasks.

With a performance management platform that helps organizations understand, optimize and align performance, SymphonyRPM is raising the bar for robust operational performance management applications. With the operational performance layer in the enterprise leveraging organizations existing ERP, SCM and CRM investments, organizations will find this approach useful for a wide variety measuring and planning purposes. SymphonyRPM brings a wealth of experience from many industries including consumer packaged goods, retail and financial services to give it a strong position to apply its information technology directly to a variety of business areas within an organization.

Ventana Research believes that SymphonyRPM's platform and class of applications are part of the next round of business-centric performance management applications that will enable organizations to improve operational performance. Our research in Operational Performance Management indicates that organizations want a platform that can support the real time and "right time" information requirements for monitoring performance while having the flexibility to apply analytics for measuring performance. While there are additional areas for improvement in reporting and supporting direct access to ERP sources like SAP, SymphonyRPM can leverage third-party products to meet these short term gaps.

Market Impact

SymphonyRPM has brought together a unique platform and tools in an accelerated fashion through acquisition and integration of leading technologies. While they are building out their portfolio of referenceable customers, the move on privatizing IRI and leveraging this channel to hundreds of the leading CPG and retailers across the globe will bode well in selling this solution offering. Through partnerships, SymphonyRPM has already embedded its platform in Algorithmics, Moodys, SunGuard with more to come.

SymphonyRPM faces challenges with traditional 'new provider' syndrome issues including market awareness and industry validation compared to more established BI and ERP providers that are already servicing your organization. Still, Ventana Research stresses this serves as a wake up call to IRI's man competitor in the syndicated point of sale data business, AC Nielsen, to drive forward a more coherent road map and strategy. We believe that SymphonyRPM must continue to focus on customer validation and more broadly educating the market on their approach.

Recommendation

Organizations looking for a platform based approach to Performance Management that goes beyond historical analysis and can provide what-if scenario-based planning should evaluate SymphonyRPM. If you are looking for a pre-configured Performance Management solution for sales and operational planning, market and cost management for operational performance management, SymphonyRPM provides a new and robust offering. We believe that SymphonyRPM will become a major player in providing solutions for the consumer-packaged goods and retail industry and will bring new life to IRI with its platform that can be applied across many vertical industries. The turn around play and leverage of IRI will give SymphonyRPM a customer base that has not seen much software innovation in their area for over a decade. The recent Ventana Research Operational Performance Management research study validates the necessity of a SymphonyRPM approach and how the majority of organizations want an ERP/CRM independent player for these types of software capabilities.

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