Vena Announces Vena Copilot for FP&A

Craig Schiff , President and CEO, BPM Partners


We are at an interesting juncture in terms of the adoption of AI in performance management systems. While vendors have been steadily rolling out AI capabilities for a number of years now (anomaly detection, predictive forecasting with machine learning, natural language processing, etc.) customers and prospects have basically reacted with a shrug, or worse. In our 2023 BPM Pulse survey 74% of respondents were skeptical of the value that AI could bring to CPM, and therefore hesitant to take advantage of it. It’s a year later and I hope the 2024 BPM Pulse will show significant movement towards greater acceptance.

All the noise around generative AI has certainly increased interest in AI, but that hasn’t yet translated to it becoming a buyer priority for CPM solutions. Users have basically said: ‘I don’t need AI to do my job for me, I just want it to make my job easier’. For vendors, the key will be to add AI in a seamless, non-threatening manner that clearly adds value, ideally in terms of productivity. For example, this could mean automating routine tasks, quickly locating requested data, reconciling data, customizing workflows and related tasks/menu choices based on roles and responsibilities. Much of this actually falls under the banner of ease of use, which is a priority for everyone and should aid in adoption. As a matter of fact, Microsoft’s recently announced Copilot for Finance takes this approach, focusing on streamlining the analysis and presentation of financial data. The true value of AI for Finance comes not so much from large-scale generic AI capabilities, but how well trained the model is specifically on financial data, and the company data model in particular. In other words, the more localized the focus the better, which brings us to Vena Copilot for FP&A.

Vena Copilot for FP&A

In business applications the most desirable AI capabilities are those designed to address selected use cases related to specific business roles and requirements and tied to the company’s data model. That is exactly the type of solution Vena set out to deliver with Vena Copilot for FP&A, a purpose-built solution to enhance FP&A productivity. Utilizing Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service large language models, Vena Copilot for FP&A is essentially an advanced conversational assistant for self-service insights. It enables users to gather data, generate reports, and analyze trends in a fraction of the time it would have taken them to accomplish those same tasks on their own.  The setup walks business users through the process of creating and training their unique AI model. They can choose from revenue or cost focused templates, or build their model from a clean slate. Next, they point it to their data model and map the appropriate elements of their Finance cube for model training. When they are satisfied with their model they can publish it, which makes it available for use across the organization. Once in use they can review user interactions and the scoring of the accuracy of the model and further train and fine-tune if necessary. That’s it. A custom model, tied to their unique needs, using their data. Vena Copilot for FP&A harnesses the power of generative AI specifically for FP&A users on the Vena Complete Planning platform. Currently in beta, the product is scheduled for general availability this May.

Vena’s Progress

Vena Copilot for FP&A complements other recently released or enhanced AI capabilities including Vena Insights, which provides AI-powered data visualizations with key influencers, decomposition trees, and anomaly detection. Vena advanced predictive forecasting unites Excel, the Vena CubeFLEX™ analytical data model, and Azure Machine Learning to deliver deep learning capabilities to improve forecast accuracy. There are several other product enhancements recently or soon-to-be released including new collaboration capabilities, additional Microsoft 365 integrations, and support for Vena data exports to feed processes in other systems. While R&D has been busy, Sales hasn’t been sitting still either. By our estimate Vena has added over 400 new customers in the past year, which is particularly impressive considering how competitive this space has become. We believe Vena is on the right track, fully leveraging the Microsoft technology stack to deliver innovative CPM solutions to midmarket Finance teams, and Vena’s sales momentum indicates we’re clearly not alone in our thinking.

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The performance management market is rapidly evolving. If you plan to purchase a new solution make sure you don’t base your decision on outdated (or biased) information. Talk to us first, or better yet: add us to your team.