We live in a time of uncertainty, not unpredictability. Managing an organization in uncertain times is always hard, but tools are available to improve the odds for success by making it easier and faster to plan for contingencies and scenarios. Software makes it possible to quickly consider the impact of a range of events or assumptions and devise a set of plans to deal with them. Dedicated planning and budgeting software has been around for decades but is about to become all the more useful as vendors increasingly incorporate artificial intelligence using machine learning to assist in scenario planning. Organizations can quickly investigate the impact of different contingencies and the consequences of a range of reactions to them.
Topics: Office of Finance, Data Management, Business Planning, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance
Vertical strategies for enterprise resource planning systems are not new. They emerged more than two decades ago as vendors looked for ways to reduce costs and shorten time-to-value in a software category that was notorious for high costs and extended timelines. A vertical-plus strategy – the plus means it’s a platform, not just an application – takes advantage of recently available technology to extend the ease of implementation and maintenance of the system by having deeper integration with complementary applications, available low-code/no-code customization capabilities and a data pantry that enables the amalgamation of data from multiple sources for situational awareness and decision support. Moreover, the ongoing shift from on-premises to cloud-based ERP systems, especially those designed to address specific types of businesses, will accelerate over the next five years as more configurable and customizable systems designed for specific business verticals become available. A cloud-based platform facilitates the creation of a digital ecosystem that can enable a software vendor’s users to enhance customer experiences.
Topics: Office of Finance, Cloud Computing, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance
Ventana Research uses the term “data pantry” to describe a method of data storage (and the technology and process blueprint for its construction) created for a specific set of users and use cases in business-focused software. It’s a pantry because all the data one needs is readily available and easily accessible, with labels that are immediately recognized and understood by the users of the application. In tech speak, this means the semantic layer is optimized for the intended audience. It is stocked with data gathered from multiple sources and immediately available for analysis, forecasting, planning and reporting. This does away with the need for analysts to repeatedly perform data extraction, enrichment or transformation motions from the required source systems, all but eliminating the substantial amount of time analysts and business users routinely spend on data preparation.
Topics: Continuous Planning, Business Intelligence, Data Management, Business Planning, Data, Financial Performance Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, AI and Machine Learning, continuous supply chain, data operations, digital finance, profitability management, Analytics & Data, Streaming Data & Events
The starting point of an era is never precise and rarely conforms to neat calendar delineations. For example, the start of the 20th century is associated with the outbreak of war in 1914. So I expect that decades from now, the consensus will hold that what became known as the 21st century began in the year 2020, with the pandemic serving as a catalyst that accelerated already existing trends and forced changes to prevailing norms and practices. This and other disruptive events that have followed are reverberating through economic and social networks and will ultimately result in some new equilibrium, but the ructions on the way there will be sharp and ever-present. Large-scale disruptions in most aspects of doing business have forced change on organizations. In this climate, the financial planning and analysis group can play a far more important role by using technology to enhance organizational agility and improve performance.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance, profitability management, operational data platforms
IBM Planning Analytics with Watson is a comprehensive, cloud-based business planning application that supports what Ventana Research calls integrated business planning. We coined this term in 2007 to describe a high-participation approach to business planning that integrates strategy, operations and finance. Our Next Generation Business Planning Benchmark Research demonstrated the value of IBP: Organizations that link planning processes get better results. Sixty-six percent of organizations that have an integrated method say it works well or very well, compared to only 25% that have little or no connection between plans.
Topics: Predictive Analytics, Office of Finance, business intelligence, embedded analytics, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, Watson, Digital transformation, AI and Machine Learning, profitability management
A predictive finance department is one that can command technology to be more forward-looking and action-oriented while still fulfilling its core role of handling the financial elements of its organization including accounting, treasury and corporate finance. Beyond just automating rote tasks, technology also facilitates a shift toward becoming a predictive finance organization. Greater amounts of information, now available in near real time, and the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), enable more immediate analyses and assessments of possible courses of action, providing executives and managers the ability to better anticipate change and the agility to adapt quickly to unexpected circumstances.
Topics: Office of Finance, business intelligence, Data Management, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance
Kinaxis recently announced it has acquired a Netherlands-based company, MPO, a cloud-based software offering that orchestrates multiparty supply chain execution. The combination is designed to enable Kinaxis to extend its concurrent planning platform to handle core elements of supply chain execution. Kinaxis acquired all the shares of MPO for approximately US$45 million, with some of the final consideration dependent on performance. MPO will continue to operate as a standalone business, but will be increasingly integrated into Kinaxis’ operations worldwide.
Topics: Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Operations & Supply Chain, Enterprise Resource Planning, AI and Machine Learning, continuous supply chain
Organizations do not live in a vacuum and things happening outside their walls have a direct impact on how they perform. So, it is essential for them to incorporate external data in their forecasting, planning and budgeting, especially for predictive analytics and machine learning (ML) to support artificial intelligence (AI). I use the term external data to include any information about the world outside an organization (including economic and market statistics), competitors (such as pricing and locations), and customers. Until recently, it was adequate for organizations to regard external data is a “nice to have” item, but that is no longer the case. External data is necessary for many functions, including useful and accurate competitive intelligence used by sales and marketing groups. It is also essential for the effective applications of AI using ML for business-focused planning and budgeting and predictive analytics.
Topics: Office of Finance, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance
Anaplan offers a cloud-based business planning platform that incorporates a modeling and calculation engine. The tool makes it relatively easy to add or expand the scope of plans that can be connected and monitored on a single platform. This Integrated Business Planning (IBP) approach enables organizations to use the software for financial planning or budgeting, sales, supply chain, workforce, marketing and IT planning. These are the types of plans in which companies often need to create models that incorporate their specific requirements, business systems and strategy. I expect that by 2025, one-fourth of financial planning and analysis (FP&A) groups will have implemented IBP.
Topics: Continuous Planning, Business Intelligence, Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, AI and Machine Learning, continuous supply chain, digital finance, profitability management
OneStream offers a platform designed to serve the needs of accounting and financial planning and analysis organizations. The software handles financial close and consolidation, planning and budgeting, analysis and reporting. For me, the most significant announcement at the company’s recent user conference was the unveiling of its Sensible ML (Machine Learning) offering, which is in limited general release. I’ve commented on the importance of artificial intelligence in business applications, and Sensible ML is a promising and important step in that direction.
Topics: Business Planning, Financial Performance Management, ERP and Continuous Accounting, AI and Machine Learning, digital finance, profitability management