Today’s ever-changing business environments require fast and informed decision making. Ironically, while data is available across various departments and companies have the technology to make sense of their islands of data, many lack the proper platform to dynamically prepare their data for critical high-level decisions.

Enter connected planning that, anchored in cloud architecture, facilitates collaboration across the enterprise to streamline the planning process for faster, more informed decisions. The end result is to improve or even accelerate business value.

Anaplan’s connected planning platform seamlessly integrates people and data to support strategic decision-making through collaboration, insights, and predictive self-learning capabilities.

Anaplan leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to facilitate rapid and continuous planning by taking into account signals and drivers both inside and outside the company.

“In essence, Anaplan connects financial decision-making to day-to-day business operations,” said Evan Quasney, global head of products and solutions at Anaplan, in an exclusive interview with The Manila Times. “Our focus has been and always will be on finance. We started with financial planning and moved into operational planning. And in recent years we have seen great success expanding our finance into supply chain, sales and marketing and into other key growth areas”.

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“Our connected planning platform helps finance executives and business leaders work together to solve some of the biggest and most pressing challenges in the marketplace. Essentially we make sure any transformation is geared towards catalysing action, driving business change, and create strategies where the business needs to move forward,” Quasney said.

Business planning has more than 70 million users worldwide. They are the main drivers of connected planning demand for better decision making.

“There are other drivers as well. The first is volatility,” Quasney said. “Looking at external trends, we see that companies need to address volatility faster. Companies need to move faster and respond faster, so agility is a starting answer.”

“Another driver is the journey to cloud adoption. As more businesses move away from on-prem, SAS-based platforms like Anaplan have become attractive because we could articulate what could lead the business where wants to go. Last but not least is that we are one platform, so customers can start their journey in one place. Over time, they might implement other use cases or other features, but they would still use the same Anaplan they started with,” Quasney added.

Large organizations have historically developed their technology architectures in silos and have experienced significant inefficiencies in gathering data across different parts of the business for management-level decision making. Anaplan, on the other hand, brings new value to the decision-making process which has repercussions in a continuous new value also for the company.

“Anaplan is essentially democratizing the decision-making process. First, we increase collaboration among many users around the world. It can start and end with finance, but in between, we have engagement with different departments and with different geographies and teams on the web,” Quasney explained. “In the past there were emails, phone calls, spreadsheets. A big meeting would be called to review and review the data. Now, because Anaplan is cloud-native, you can go in, make an update and add your comment would be instantly available within microseconds somewhere else.”

Another important use of data in a business is to predict risks, outcomes and scenarios. However, with predictive capabilities, most of the time is spent processing the data. Anaplan adopts AI and Machine Learning to offer a fast and easy way to predict future trends.

“Our predictive capability comes from what we call Plan IQ, which is based on AWS forecasting methodologies,” said Quasney. “Another feature we use, CloudWorks, an integration tool, moves data from Amazon or GCP. Together, these tools could seamlessly connect existing data in your enterprise ecosystem or warehouse to a forecasting engine. Imagine moving from data to insights much faster, so now you could use it faster.”

With all of these capabilities in place, will future-oriented companies do away with business planning departments? Quasney answered differently. “No, not at all. It’s the exact opposite. Anaplan changes the way you work with existing data. Enterprise planning teams are now able to gain more insights to better communicate with their satellite teams and to enable operations to better understand the business from rapid insights”.

In the Philippines, Anaplan has grown by 8% in recent years. Quasney believes potential clients understand that whatever they’re doing right now isn’t working, so they’re looking for a better way to plan. These prospects make it more exciting for Anaplan to grow across Asia.

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