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How the Anaplan Acquisition of Fluence Will Change the CPM Market (For the Better)

Craig Schiff , President and CEO, BPM Partners

Overview

Anaplan has announced their intent to acquire Fluence Technologies with the deal expected to close by the end of the month, if not sooner. This may look like yet another routine acquisition of a smaller vendor by a larger vendor in the enterprise software space. These types of deals occur on a regular basis and most people barely pay attention anymore. This one is different though, and its impact will ripple through the red-hot performance management market. For one thing, it validates the importance of true financial consolidation capabilities as a key component of performance management solutions and may cause some planning-only vendors to sit up and take notice. Let’s drill into the details.

Anaplan, Fluence, and Their Customers Will Benefit From This Deal

Both vendors and their customers benefit significantly from this combination. The two vendors’ offerings complement each other nicely, filling in key gaps, with minimal overlap. Anaplan pioneered ‘connected planning’ starting with a focus on providing a flexible platform for aligning strategic and operational planning, followed by the addition of robust financial planning capabilities. Today, Anaplan on its own is a planning leader, but in large enterprise deals financial consolidation has only grown in importance, and that is a key component they lack. Fluence, on the other hand, is focused on financial consolidation, redefining how a financial consolidation solution can handle complexity while also simplifying its administration and use by leveraging out-of-the-box functionality. Fluence’s challenge has been their lack of planning capabilities, requiring them to partner with other vendors for the significant number of companies looking to purchase both consolidation and planning. This two-vendor CPM solution approach didn’t always go over well. Anaplan, after the Fluence acquisition, will be able to provide its customers and prospects with the complete performance management planning, consolidation and disclosure management solution that most companies are looking for. This will enable the Finance team to utilize the Anaplan platform to plan their business in real-time while also being able to leverage a familiar UX to control and execute consolidation and disclosure management, streamlining the entire process and accelerating time to decision-making.

Anaplan Joins the Ranks of the Comprehensive CPM Solution Leaders for Large Organizations

The combination of these two leading CPM vendors will create a new dynamic in the top-tier of large enterprise focused performance management vendors. When this acquisition is complete Anaplan will join OneStream Software, Oracle, and Wolters Kluwer CCH Tagetik as one of the few leading vendors in the world offering a complete CPM suite of financial planning, operational planning, financial consolidation and close, reporting and analytics for large organizations. You might wonder why certain other familiar vendor names are missing from this list. The simple answer is that their current financial consolidation strategies disqualify them. As the Anaplan acquisition of Fluence highlights – financial consolidation, and the ‘one version of the truth’ that it enables, is critical to companies trying to measure their actual performance against plan.

Best-of-Breed Becomes a Real Choice

There has been renewed interest in best-of-breed solutions, particularly when it comes to planning and consolidation. Buyers see the value in purpose-built performance management solutions architected and optimized for particular use cases, they just don’t want to get them from two different vendors and have to worry about integration and support. Fluence is a best-of-breed consolidation solution, and as part of Anaplan it will remain as such. The current Anaplan Connected Planning platform and the Fluence product will work together as two best-of-breed solutions, integrated at the data level, sold and supported by a single vendor. If this sounds familiar it’s because it’s very similar to the approach Prophix has taken with its Prophix One platform which incorporates its Sigma Conso consolidation product acquisition.

Midmarket Consolidation Solutions

The acquisition of Fluence by Anaplan for consolidation capabilities validates the activity that has been going on for a while now in the midmarket where planning vendors have been expanding their own consolidation capabilities. Planful, during its Host Analytics days, was one of the first vendors in the midmarket to see the importance of consolidation and delivered those capabilities alongside planning and budgeting. More recently they have been enhancing their offerings in this area through strategic partnerships. Prophix, as previously mentioned, now delivers a complete CPM suite for the midmarket through their Prophix One offering. Vena, although a Fluence partner, has built out their own consolidation capabilities to the point where they would only need to bring in Fluence for very specific consolidation use cases. While it is unclear right now what will become of Fluence’s existing vendor partnerships, Vena continues to enhance its consolidation capabilities to address the most complex requirements, while also leveraging Vena Copilot to provide insights into the consolidated data, all included in Vena’s Complete Planning platform. Even Workday Adaptive Planning has recognized the importance of true financial consolidation alongside planning, as evidenced by their recent announcement of Workday Adaptive Planning and Consolidation which leverages the consolidation capabilities of Workday Financial Management through a unified data model.

The Future

Beyond the current crop of vendors, most new CPM vendors are still in their early stages and are focused primarily on financial planning and modeling for smaller organizations. There is one major exception however. JustPerform, who we named our Best New Vendor in 2022, provides a very capable financial consolidation and planning solution targeted at the upper midmarket/large company market segment. Despite their relatively small size they have been effectively competing with some of the larger vendors in this space.

While there will always be a place for budgeting and planning focused vendors, for large companies and growing midmarket organizations consolidation has shown itself to be an essential component. With the Anaplan acquisition of Fluence these companies now have one more compelling option to consider when looking for a modern and comprehensive CPM solution.

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This is an important topic that directly impacts you if you are planning to purchase a new performance management solution. To ensure you incorporate the latest developments into your project plans talk to us, or add us to your team.

Vena Announces Vena Copilot for FP&A

Craig Schiff , President and CEO, BPM Partners

Overview

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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Vena PerformancePlace

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.

 

Prophix Launches Prophix One™

Craig Schiff , President and CEO, BPM Partners

Overview

When organizations are in the market for a new financial performance management solution there are many competing priorities. The FP&A team is looking for a capable but easy to use budgeting and planning solution along with management reporting and analytics. Operational leaders are looking for an integrated business planning solution that is highly flexible, can integrate with numerous source systems, as well as store and analyze large volumes of detailed granular data with adequate performance. The accounting group wants a consolidation and close solution that is fast, accurate, supports global regulatory requirements, integrates seamlessly with their ERP or general ledger, can handle complexity with out-of-the-box functionality, and of course deliver trustworthy financial reporting.

Ideally, the CFO (along with IT) would like to purchase a single unified all-in-one performance management solution to address all of these requirements. Does such a system exist? Yes and no. There are many unified solutions available today. However, most of them are very strong in one primary area and somewhat weaker in the others. Some are unified in name only and are really a collection of disconnected modules. The best of the unified solutions can be costly and are targeted at the largest companies. Due to the unified nature and bundled pricing you can also end up paying for functionality that you don’t require today.

All of this has generated renewed interest in considering best-of-breed solutions focused on each major area. The challenges with this approach include contracting with multiple vendors, IT having to build integration between the various data models, and users that need to access more than one of the solutions having to sign in and out of each solution as well as adjust to their different interfaces. This leads us to Prophix One.

Prophix One™

The goal of Prophix One is to provide the benefits of a best-of-breed approach (products architected and optimized for specific use cases and audiences), but minus the challenges, by delivering solutions through a unified platform framework from a single vendor.  Have they achieved their goal? Let’s take a look.

In its initial release Prophix One, a Financial Performance Platform, offers solutions for financial planning, budgeting, financial consolidation with intercompany management, disclosure management (utilizing IRIS CARBON), and reporting and analytics. It’s a good start that addresses the most pressing needs of many organizations today. The next items on the roadmap to be delivered as part of Prophix One this year include account reconciliation, close management, and integrated business planning. On day one the Prophix One platform itself includes the following capabilities: a centralized starting point and single sign on for all solutions, centralized user management and authentication, seamless data integration and sharing across the platform, and a consistent user experience. The concept is certainly compelling, we’ll have to wait to see how well it all works in practice once it’s being actively used by Prophix customers.

   

The Future

The Prophix One approach will allow Prophix to easily add new solutions over time. In addition to the planned product releases for later this year, they will also be adding a solutions marketplace to greatly expand the offerings available as part of Prophix One. While Prophix One should be attractive to many companies, it would appear to be a particularly good fit for rapidly growing midmarket organizations. They can purchase and use just what they need today, and as their needs evolve, they can add new purpose-built solutions without having to worry about integration, setting up user security, or learning a new interface.

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Prophix PerformancePlace

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.

Pigment Expands into Sales Performance Management

Craig Schiff , President and CEO, BPM Partners

Overview

Pigment continues to grow in terms of geographies, customers, and users within a customer organization. Some of this growth is driven by the fact that they are always challenging themselves with the question: ‘how can we enable more users to easily adopt Pigment’?  This thinking has resulted in integrations such as the Pigment Connector for Excel (Pigment’s initial spreadsheet integration focus was with Google Sheets), and native integrations with data warehouses such as Snowflake to enable deeper data analysis. It has also spawned a focus on addressing the needs of teams beyond Finance with specific functionality. This led to the addition of Pigment Org Chart to flesh out their Workforce Planning capabilities, and better meet the needs of HR when it comes to headcount planning. Now they have turned their attention to meeting the needs of the sales team.

Pigment SPM

Pigment’s Sales Performance Management focus is on GTM planning (capacity planning, territory and quota management). Pigment’s solution for this use case resides within the existing Pigment platform and leverages existing functionality and CRM integrations, with some enhancements made for this purpose (such as additional detail being added to Org Chart). Clients also have access to a template library to get them started. You might be thinking: is this really a solution at all? A key question therefore is will anybody purchase Pigment expressly for this purpose? The answer is yes. Several net new customers have already purchased the product specifically for Sales Performance Management. In addition, these new customers have also started using some of the financial planning capabilities as well. One of the customers is a large multi-national consumer packaged goods company that needed an SPM solution for hundreds of sales executives. This purchase was a replacement of an existing solution they were using from a competing CPM vendor. That’s certainly an early validation of Pigment’s SPM capabilities. To utilize Pigment for SPM there is a platform fee related to this use case, and of course user licenses are required for any new users.

   

Pigment’s Progress

By our count Pigment has added nearly 150 customers in the past year or so, putting them at 250+. They have also in that same timeframe established a sizeable footprint in North America in terms of both employees and customers (ARR in N.A. grew by 4X in the past year). Backed by significant funding (now including a $145 million series D) Pigment continues to execute on its vision to address all key areas of planning and analysis. We have been surprised by how quickly they have been able to move into the larger company market and effectively compete with some of the well-established vendors targeting that market sector. With Pigment AI currently in beta, Workforce Planning, Sales Performance Management, and scenario planning currently in place, consolidation and close addressed by a partnership with Fluence Technologies, it will be interesting to see which areas of performance management Pigment tackles next.

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Pigment PerformancePlace

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.

 

First Look: Pigment

Craig Schiff , President and CEO, BPM Partners

Overview

Pigment is a relatively new budgeting and planning vendor that has been attracting a good deal of attention lately. The two main reasons for all the attention are the impressive amount of money they have raised, and the equally impressive number of customers they have acquired after only a short time actively marketing their solution.

Does that make them a vendor that you should be considering? We recently met with them to find out

Investment: US$165 million to date from investors such as Greenoaks, Meritech, FirstMark, IVP, and Blossom

Customers: 100+ after only a little over a year of actively marketing their product with Carta and Deliveroo as two examples

Country of Origin: France, with offices currently in Paris, London, NYC

Target Market: Midmarket and larger organizations, across all industries in Europe and North America

Details:  Pigment is a rapidly growing vendor with a global footprint. Although they are based in France, over half of their customers are from outside the country, with the U.S. being the single largest market segment. The Pigment integrated business planning platform is modeling-centric and can support most financial and operational planning requirements. To accelerate operational planning implementations templates are currently available for workforce planning and sales performance management. The product’s well laid-out interface, ease-of-use, training academy, and community forum should aid in adoption. Native integrations are available for many popular source systems. Completing the picture is live collaboration and a relatively quick implementation timeframe. Also of note, we found the company very responsive and easy to work with.

 Financial Dashboard  Scenario Planning Example

Key Strengths: An impressive team that includes experienced performance management industry veterans and a product vision to further enhance integration and collaboration to become a leading end-to-end EPM provider. Although we don’t yet have BPM Pulse ratings for Pigment, other data points would indicate a happy customer base. Their greatest strength is an inviting, easy to use budgeting and planning product designed for Finance self-sufficiency, that addresses the key areas companies are most focused on today, such as scenario planning.

Key Elements Missing Today: Consolidation and close, live integration with Excel and Power BI (all on the roadmap). They are also lacking access to native AI capabilities (although they do make this available through partners), but for most companies that is not yet a top priority.

Bottom Line: If you are a midmarket organization looking for an intuitive, easy to use, budgeting and planning solution with a focus on modeling and scenario planning specifically, and you are open to the risks (and rewards) of working with a newer vendor, then Pigment is worth including on your evaluation shortlist.

Learn More: Pigment PerformancePlace