State of confusion

Advancing performance accountability across the enterprise is one of the most pressing topics of concern throughout the Middle East, as Duncan MacRae discovers.

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By  Duncan MacRae Published  June 1, 2007

From operational issues such as sales and logistics to high level strategic planning, if an organisation does not have the capability to understand and measure its own performance it will lack the insight to set meaningful objectives, rationalise expenses and increase profitability. This is where BPM solutions come into play and the Cognos road show rolled into the Middle East to promote just that.

The main reasons for the BI and BPM provider putting an appearance in was to let CIOs in this part of the world know that it is bolstering its presence in the region and boosting the headcount so that it might better serve its local clients. As many companies now realise, BPM and BI applications are key for business success and improvement but the enterprise always wants more.

"About four years ago we pushed our case for dealing directly in the region," explains Derek Morrison, Middle Eastern regional general manager at Cognos. "We've been in the region for 10 years with resellers and as Cognos' market proposition goes upmarket we're increasingly working cooperatively side-by-side.

"It's quite sophisticated what we're talking about - business performance management and business intelligence. Our customers are expecting and asking that we have a presence in the region as part of the transaction and overall relationship.

"They want to see the main expert being involved. The customer expectation is that they'll see the vendor involved and see them use their expertise during implementation."

The historical Cognos go-to-market model going back to before it opened its corporate office had been through a partner channel, which the company continues to maintain and build.

"In the last 60 days we've appointed two new partners in Kuwait - one is Technology World and one is Bushar Group," Morrison says. "So we're building our partner channel around the Gulf states but what we're also doing is building our direct presence so we can continue to support our partners and continue to engage with our clients directly. We're building our expertise, our implementation team, our project management team is being increased so we can continue to support our partners and current and prospective clients."

One key point to come out of this particular roadshow was the firm belief that over the years BPM has gone well beyond being just another buzz word or industry bandwagon to get on.

"I think BI and BPM come to the fore," Morrison insists. "If you look at a recent survey on CIO priorities from Gartner, BI was I think number ten on their list of priorities for a number of years and now it's number two and number one in some countries.

"What I can see happening there is most people have got their transaction systems sorted so whether it's CRM, ERP, HR systems or whatever, they're there. There's a bit of replacement going on but they're pretty stable. And what organisations are doing now, is trying to get real value from the data that they contain. We're currently seeing a lot of excitement around the growth potential."

And despite one of Cognos' closest rivals, Hyperion, recently being acquired by Oracle for around US$3.3 billion, the Cognos team feels its future is looking rosier than ever. According to them, the acquisition is good news as there is now some uncertainty about Oracle's overlapping products which could provide the company with a competitive edge.

Ged Simmons, director of sales, UK & MEA at Cognos, says: "Oracle's strategy on performance management is called Oracle Fusion and some people now call it Oracle ‘confusion'."

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