Paul Hamerman By Paul Hamerman

In the world of Business Performance Solutions (BPS), the applications generating the most traction include planning/budgeting/forecasting, financial consolidations, and strategy management. In these evolving BPS product portfolios (also referred to by vendors as EPM, CPM, FPM or PM), a new class of products is emerging for performance analytics.

What are performance analytic applications, you ask? They are pre-built business intelligence solutions targeting a specific functional domain or industry problem. The applications typically contain data models, graphical UI’s containing scorecards and other visualizations, content (such as KPI formulas), and workflows or notifications of issues requiring attention. The solutions typically provide insight into results and trends, and may also include a predictive capability for envisioning future results.

The five largest players in BPS have performance analytics solutions already in play:

IBM Cognos: currently has 8 analytic applications addressing workforce performance, talent analytics, customer performance, supply chain performance, banking and credit risk, and financial performance across general ledger, accounts payable, and accounts receivable.

Infor: offers as set of packaged performance analytic dashboards, called Infor Decisions, which are role-based solutions for a dozen roles, including accounting and finance, sales, inventory management, procurement, and production.

Oracle: offers a set of performance analytic dashboards called Oracle Business Intelligence Applications (OBIA). These analytic apps address sales, pricing, marketing, customer loyalty, service, financials, HR, supply chain, procurement and spend, projects and industry topics.

SAP: currently offers spend and supply chain performance analytics apps, as well as IT shared services and carbon and water footprinting, with more on the way.

SAS Institute: SAS has been one of the early movers in analytic apps, and has a portfolio that includes HCM and IT, as well as customer intelligence, supplier relationship management, operational risk and a number of industry specific analytic apps.

Will customers find value and buy these solutions? It is still too early to tell, since many of the products are relatively new and adoption has been fairly light to date. The exception here is Oracle’s OBIA, which has seen significant uptake, probably because of the pre-built integration to its ERP and CRM applications and the size of this installed base.

The concept of performance analytic applications raises a classic buy-versus-build scenario. These packaged solutions are worthwhile if they satisfy business users’ appetite for insight and can be deployed rapidly. If they miss the mark, in-house development using BI tools may be the best bet. Stay tuned for my Forrester Wave: Business Performance Solutions, Q4 2009, due out in November.