Performance management software has always sought to liberate business users from the confines of a spreadsheet. After all, spreadsheets are not ideal for handling fundamental financial processes, much less in tracking key performance indicators (KPI). Spreadsheets typically present internal data only, comparing one set of internal numbers to another set, without acknowledging competitive benchmarks. They are also prone to errors and are very labor intensive. So, changing how performance data gets computed and reported makes sense.
Although business performance management (BPM) solutions sprang up in response to the limitations I’ve mentioned and have been around for more than a decade, they’ve lumbered along in both performance and adoption. Part of the criticism leveled at the software is that it’s too complex, too costly to customize, and too hard to pin a solid ROI.
Fortunately, 2013 looks to be the year that BPM comes into its own. Look for these trends and innovations to appear in BPM solutions soon:
1) A major downsize in KPIs: Not so long ago, business leaders believed that more key performance indicators was better than a select few. The more you knew, the more you could address, went the thinking. That proved incorrect as it led companies to launch many initiatives at once and thus spread resources too thin. It also increased confusion. As a result, look for BPM solutions to offer fewer, yet more relevant KPIs or to offer you a means to select just the KPIs you want to track. The key mantra here is focus, focus, focus.
2) More cloud play: BPM solutions, like a lot of their brethren, are being offered in the cloud now and more will follow. This drives down costs, eliminates over involvement from IT (and the subsequent delays that involvement entails), and enables companies to easily test solutions before investing in one.
3) Data visualization will become more automated: There is no doubt now that data visualization is the best means in which to easily interpret large, complex data. So far, however, data visualization proved hard to build and too dependent on graphic design. Look for BPM solutions to offer more automation in data visualization and interfaces that allow you to easily select what data you want visualized. This will have the effect of democratizing data visualization company-wide.
4) More self-service: Although BPM has become progressively end-user friendly, it needs to be more so. Too often business people have to wait on technical people to generate reports within BPM. Look for solution providers to further automate reporting and enable business users to summon reports on demand via self-service.