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GSG Rebrands as Sakon and Launches the Sakon Platform

Note: This blog contains excerpts from Amalgam’s Market Milestone document. For the full story, including additional context and recommendations for Global 2000 organizations, purchase the full report.

Key Stakeholders: CIO, CFO, IT Finance, Telecom Managers, Network Managers, Mobility Managers, Software Asset Managers.

Key Announcement

On January 17th, Sakon, formerly known as GSG, announced the launch of the Sakon platform, a Software as a Service suite of six applications to support the following areas: Mobility and Internet of Things Service Management, Network Services, Cloud Applications Management, Expense Management, Sourcing & Transformation Management, and Insights and Intelligence. This platform will be available as an annual subscription to support telecom, network, IoT, and SaaS management needs for enterprise IT organizations.
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FloQast Announces Visualizations to Improve the Financial Close

Industry: Accounting and Audit Automation
Key Stakeholders: CIO, CFO, IT Controllers, Finance Managers, Accounting Managers

On January 23rd, 2018, FloQast announced new visualization capabilities for its Close Analytics solution initially launched in April of 2017. These visualizations included views of retrospective and close trends, progress in entity management, and a filtered isolation of high risk processes and root cause drivers.

Amalgam Context for FloQast Visualizations

FloQast is a close management solution created to improve the financial close process. Through a combination of workflows, cloud storage, and deep accounting subject matter expertise, FloQast provides a cloud-based environment to coordinate and accelerate the financial close.

In April of 2017, FloQast launched its Close Analytics solution, an additional module that allowed accounting teams to add visual tracking and metrics to improve close management. These analytics have been enhanced by this most recent announcement to improve process visibility for controllers, finance and accounting executives, and other key executives tracking the accounting close process. Amalgam Insights believes this announcement and its focus on risk contextualization and process specificity reflects the culmination of multiple strategic needs and trends in the accounting world.

First, these visualizations reflect a key market trend that accounting and financial automation in and of themselves can become a Black Box of risk when the process is not completely transparent. Although FloQast was already a market leader in providing visibility in the close process, FloQast’s efforts in providing clear visualizations on an entity and process-specific basis continued FloQast’s leadership in making financial close faster, easier, and more transparent.

Second, these visualizations offer accounting and executive teams with a greater shared basis for trust in their financial close. Amalgam Insights believes that Trust is the key theme for enterprise technology in 2018, superseding speed, automation, and productivity. Fortunately for FloQast and FloQast clients, close process visualization can simultaneously accelerate both productivity and trust. However, modern solutions must focus on trusted productivity, as productivity in and of itself is not sufficient.

Third, agility requires real-time visibility, or at least a reasonable facsimile of the current state of affairs. To minimize bottlenecks in the close process, accounting leads must be aware of potential problems and delays that are currently in place. Through these added visualizations, FloQast provides a level of visualization that is not currently available in the vast majority of mid-sized and large enterprises due to the inherent disaggregation that currently is pervasive in accounting departments.

Fourth, visualizations must reflect the past, present, and future of any given process to be truly useful. Historical visualizations of the past are important for identifying patterns and viewing evolutionary changes in process and activity. Current visualizations are important in taking action in the moment and allocating resources appropriately. And expected visualizations of future processes and results are vital in forecasting the need for additional resources and time that may be necessary due to external demands such as new revenue recognition and leasing requirements, mergers and acquisitions activity, or significant portfolio reallocations.

Recommendations for the Accounting Community

The visualization of financial close processes and progress is still relatively novel because of the traditional distribution of work in managing the enterprise close. Because of this, there are very few best practices for accounting teams to follow in tracking the close other than to simply visualize all processes. As accounting departments seek to integrate visualization into their close tracking process, Amalgam provides the following recommendations.

Use cloud-based storage for managing financial close documents, including relevant reconciliation and consolidation reports that must be viewed by two or more people. Without this shared view of key documents and standardization of processes and document names, businesses will be unable to support the data access and real-time updates necessary to visualize financial close process in the first place. The ongoing creation and governance of these documents can also be improved by creating repeatable monthly, quarterly, and annual templates that are also made available to all relevant financial close stakeholders.

Ensure that close visualizations include views of the past, present, and future, but be aware that each of these sets of visualization are used for different use cases. Visualizations focused on the past are important for compliance, pattern recognition, and a historical record of evolutionary change in financial close and data collection. Visualizations portraying data in the present need to be linked with alerts, high-risk processes, and the need to take action when necessary. Visualizations showing future forecasts and potential outcomes allow departments to prepare for key events, regulatory changes, or business transactions that may require reallocation, additional preparation, or additional investment to ensure consistent delivery of accounting services.

Be careful that the financial close is not a black box of activity. It is not sufficient to simply create a set of financial documents that reflect the business activity of the past fiscal period. Without sufficient explanatory documentation, progress tracking, and identification of key drivers that affect financial close efficacy, the financial close is not repeatable and companies will be stuck reinventing the wheel every month simply to conduct a basic business task. This lack of repeatability from Black Box thinking will prevent accountants from taking on higher business value tasks, such as resource optimization, sales operations, and other analysis that can elevate accountants from operational bean counters to strategic business consultants.

By aligning accounting process visibility to these key industry trends, Amalgam believes that FloQast’s focus on visibility has enhanced the Close Analytics module that this vendor offers and met a key need for improving accounting environments. FloQast’s improved visualizations reflect holistic business needs for increased trust, real-time agility, and risk contextualization in accounting departments. Mid-sized and large enterprises must adopt visualizations that portray retrospective trends, entity-specific close processes, and risk-prioritized isolation to truly gain control of their close environments.

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Data and Analytic Strategies for Developing Ethical IT: a BrightTALK webinar

BI to AI on Trusted Data - An Amalgam Insights Research Theme
BI to AI on Trusted Data – An Amalgam Insights Research Theme

Recommended Audience: CIOs, Enterprise Architects, Data Managers, Analytics Managers, Data Scientists, IT Managers

Vendors Mentioned: Trifacta, Paxata, Datameer, Datawatch, Lavastorm, Alation, Tamr, Unifi, 1010Data, Podium Data, IBM, Domo, Microsoft, Information Builders, Board, Microstrategy, Cloudera,, RapidMiner, Domino Data Lab, Dataiku, TIBCO, SAS, Amazon Web Services, Google, DataRobot.

In case you missed it, I just finished up my webinar on Data and Analytic Strategies for Developing Ethical IT. We are headed into a new algorithmic, statistical, and heterogenous data-defined model of IT where IT ethics and relevance are being challenged. In this webinar, we discussed:

  • Why IT is broken from a support and business perspective
  • The aspects of IT that can be fixed
  • What we can do as IT managers to fix IT
  • Data Prep, Data Unification, Business Intelligence, Data Science, and Machine Learning vendors that can help unlock the Black Boxes and Opt-Out disasters in IT
  • Key Recommendations

This webinar provides context to my ongoing research tracks of “BI to AI on Shared Data” and “IT Management at Scale.” To attend the webinar, please check the embedded view below or click to watch on BrightTALK

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Calero Purchases European TEM Leader A&B Groep: What to Expect?

Note: This blog contains excerpts from Amalgam’s Due Diligence Dossier on Calero. To get the full report, click here.

In January 2018, Calero announced two acquisitions, Comview and A&B Groep. These acquisitions have increased Calero’s headcount by over 70 employees, added geographic footprint, demonstrated a specific profile for acquisition, and demonstrates the willingness for new owners, Riverside Partners, to quickly take action within 120 days of acquiring Calero. This combination of acquisition, execution, and stated focus result in the need to re-evaluate Calero in context of these significant changes. Continue reading Calero Purchases European TEM Leader A&B Groep: What to Expect?

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The Brain Science of Effective Corporate Soft Skills Training

Companies Mentioned: Deloitte, Salesforce, SAP, Cornerstone, Saba, Skillsoft, Fivel, PageUp, PeopleFluent, Talentsoft, Oracle, SilkRoad, IBM, Lumesse, Litmos, D2L, LearnCore, and Lessonly

Soft skills are “people skills”, and they are extremely important in the commercial sector. They involve showing and feeling empathy, embracing diversity, and understanding that we all have biases that we need to be aware of and keep in check. They involve effective interpersonal interactions and real-time communication skills and are relevant at all corporate levels. Whether office staff who interface with clients, office managers who interface with employees and their superiors, or the C-suite who provide the leadership and vision for the company, effective soft skills matter. An individual with strong soft skills can be an effective collaborator, leader, and “good” citizen. They not only know “what” behaviors are appropriate and inappropriate, but they know “how” to generate those behaviors and do so in a highly effective manner.
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4 Predictions on the Future of IT Consumption

At Amalgam Insights, we have been focused on the key 2018 trends that will change our ability to manage technology at scale. In Part 1 of this series, Tom Petrocelli provided his key Developer Operations and enterprise collaboration predictions for 2018 in mid-December. In part two, , Todd Maddox provided 5 key predictions that will shape enterprise learning in 2018. In the third and final set of predictions, I’m taking on key themes of cloud, mobility, telecom, and data management that will challenge IT in terms of management at scale.

  1. Cloud IaaS and SaaS Spend under formal management will double in 2018, but the total spend under formalized management still be under 25% of total business spend.
  2. The number of cellular-connected IoT devices will double to over one billion between now and 2020.
  3. Technology Lifecycle Management will start to emerge as a complex spend management strategy for medium and large enterprises.
  4. Ethical AI will emerge as a key practice for AI Governance.

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Differential Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Hard and Soft Skills Training

Key takeaway: Todd Maddox, Ph.D. uses his background in the psychological and brain science of learning to show how sleep deprivation affects employees’ working memory and executive attention. Both work and training environments should take sleep into consideration in developing high-performance and high-retention environments. Otherwise, sleep deprivation can ruin even the best-designed training environments.
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5 Predictions That Will Transform Corporate Training in 2018

At Amalgam Insights, we have been focused on the key 2018 trends that will change our ability to manage technology at scale. Tom Petrocelli provided his key Developer Operations and enterprise collaboration predictions for 2018 in mid-December. To continue that trend, Todd Maddox provides 5 key predictions that will shape enterprise learning in 2018 as markets reach new heights, corporate training embraces new scientific principles, and retention replaces compliance as a key training driver.

  1. VR/AR Enterprise Application Budget to Surpass $1 Billion in 2018
  2. eLearning (Computer-Based Training) Market to Approach $180 billion in 2018
  3. Commercial Training Sector to Embrace Neuroscience of Optimized Learning
  4. Continued Exponential Growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a Driving Force Behind the User Interface (UI)
  5. Training for Retention: The Rule, Not the Exception in 2018

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Calero Flexes PE Muscle in Acquiring TEM Stalwart Comview

On December 29th, 2017, Calero Software acquired Comview, an experienced telecom expense management and call accounting software and services provider. Financial terms were not disclosed. From Amalgam’s perspective, this acquisition is important in demonstrating the plans of Calero under its new ownership, Riverside Partners, and in establishing Comview’s role in the Technology Expense Management market. With this acquisition, all Comview personnel other than Founder John Perri are expected to move to Calero. Calero has committed to supporting Comview’s solution for the immediate future. Comview is expected to run as “a Calero company” with independent development and operations in the short term.

Overall, Amalgam is bullish on this acquisition as it combines the strengths of a veteran TEM provider, Comview, with strong customer service and an integrated platform with the scale and breadth of Calero’s capabilities.

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Dual Learning Systems in the Brain: Implications for Corporate Training

Effective training is critical in all business sectors. In 2017, over $360 billion was spent on training worldwide, with over $160 billion spent in the U.S. alone. Given the ever-changing nature of the corporate landscape, as new technologies are introduced (e.g., AI) or upgraded (e.g., constant software upgrades), and as new challenges arise (e.g., sexual harassment in the workplace) corporate training must evolve to meet the growing need.
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