glasses on table ibm vision 2014 insights focus concept

IBM Vision 2014, the premier global conference for finance, risk management, and sales compensation professionals, took place in Orlando, Florida from May 18-21. There were over 1,500 Business Analytics users, clients, developers, and others in attendance. This was my first time at the conference, and there was excitement of all kinds in the atmosphere. Current and prospective clients learned how organizations and individuals solve their strategic and everyday problems using analytics. Technical sellers and implementers like me were excited to swap stories and learn what is in store for the amazing tools we use today and will use tomorrow. Sales people were glad to see their clients sharing their success stories and build new opportunities for customers.

In terms of Sales Performance Management (SPM), which is my focus, one key takeaway was that IBM did not invest in Cognos ICM (formerly Varicent) to just integrate it and hide it inside the other offerings. SPM is a key focus for IBM Business Analytics and they are continuing to develop the product. The development team has more than doubled since the product’s acquisition (late 2012), and new enhancements are released regularly. See this article regarding the latest version 8.1 for more information.

The five topics I found most engaging were as follows:

  • Cognos ICM and Cognos TM1 Integration – Most of the participants in this discussion were experienced implementers of ICM and the discussion was led by senior member of the IBM Product Team. The current product releases will allow TM1 to easily capitalize on the rich data available in ICM, and I believe future iterations will allow seamless communication from TM1 back to ICM.
  • Using Workflow Manager – Although this has been available since December 2012, each new release keeps improving the module. The module is used to create logic to automatically push a Presenter report into the next required state based on predefined business rules. The key information for users is that there are more features to come that can reduce implementation costs and eliminate the need for JavaScript in web forms.
  • Prior-Period Adjustments – Locking has been a key feature of Cognos ICM for quite some time. This function lets you lock your data and results at a specific point in time. To fully utilize it, an implementation needs to include logic for adjusting past results by including them in current or future compensation. I believe this asset of ICM will be developed further and fully productized in future releases. The result will be simpler implementations with more capabilities.

These three innovations will continue to transform SPM when using Cognos ICM. They show IBM’s continued dedication to the mantra many in business analytics repeat: “Better, Smarter, Faster.”

Two sessions not directly related to SPM that also provided useful information were as follows:

  • Management Reporting: Let’s Stop Reinventing the Wheel – This session described and demonstrated Cognos Disclosure Management. Before working with SPM, I spent several years as a Public Auditor and Corporate Accountant. This product would have saved me time and many headaches. In short, it allows for easy collaboration and automates the collection of data and repetitive reporting processes using familiar tools like Microsoft Office (tax filings, 10-Ks, management reporting). More information is available here.
  • Customer Profitability—Newfound Insights at Laurentian Bank – This session appealed to me as a former Corporate Accountant and as an SPM consultant. Many companies wish for the ability to allocate costs and pinpoint individual customer or transaction profitability. Laurentian Bank is on the path to realizing this goal with a high degree of accuracy utilizing IBM Cognos TM1.

Aside from several good keynote and general session speakers, the last speaker was also very good. Aimee Mullins was born with a medical condition that resulted in amputating both of her lower legs. She went on to compete successfully in track and field as well as become an actress and model. She spoke about achieving the “impossible”. She has pursued innovation in the world of prosthetics while shattering perceived limitations.

Ironside strives to innovate and achieve the impossible using business analytics. If you have any questions or were at IBM Vision 2014, let us know what you think! We will be there again next year. In the meantime, you can check out our Sales Performance Management team page to get more info on our SPM and ICM strategies.