Anaplan Ups Ante With Planning Apps For The Enterprise

High hopes for EPM hub in the Cloud


In the new world of Cloud-based enterprise planning software, Anaplan has assembled considerable fire power to challenge a host of competitors from EPM incumbents to well-funded upstarts.

During its recent user conference, Anaplan showcased a number of new apps designed to fill the gaps in financial, HR, operational and sales planning processes still riddled with unwieldy spreadsheets or legacy on-premise systems that are difficult and expensive to configure and implement.

The end game is to deliver a range of Cloud applications that can help companies compress planning, while speeding their decision-making process. Cloud vendors like Anaplan are shaking up the traditional Enterprise Performance Management(EPM) applications market, which covers software for budgeting, forecasting and other similar tools that rely on predictive analytics to drive better scorecards, operational insights as well as continuous improvements in financial, HR, supply chain and sales planning.

With $150 million in venture funding, Anaplan has become one of the fastest-growing vendors in the Cloud EPM applications market after tripling its bookings and revenues last year. Employee count now exceeds 450, up from 172 in 2014. Hundreds of customers including the likes of American Express Travel, Aviva, Diageo, Intel McAfee and VMWare have signed on with Anaplan resulting in more than 35,000 subscribers.

Not only are these companies relying on Anaplan to fortify their traditional planning processes like budgeting, forecasting and financial consolidation, they are also investing in new Cloud apps that deliver greater visibility into routine yet strategic planning projects like determining bonuses, quotas and territories for armies of salespeople in a matter of minutes, as opposed to hours or days under existing systems. That is what HP’s 3,500 users are doing running Anaplan in order to better plan quotas and territories for 25,000 reps in indirect sales to manage 1.4 million accounts.

Others are scaling out their use of Anaplan. After running Anaplan in a three-month sales forecasting management project for the Americas, VMware now plans to expand its use by going global with quota and territory applications. In so doing, VMware has emerged as Anaplan’s top customer – based on the number of users and use cases – for an array of Cloud EPM apps with some coming from Anaplan and others from its partners like Deloitte. The number of apps in the Anaplan Hub – developed in conjunction with its partners and customers – has grown to 65 and the figure could top 150 by the end of the year.

With the multiplying effects of these apps, Anaplan is expected to yield bigger deals as well as increased wallet shares among its customers, both of which will boost the number of users and the size of an Anaplan Hyperblock in-memory computing space, or workspace, now covering up to one billion cells per model. Already, Anaplan customers are rolling out 20,827 models covering 13 trillion cells that can be stored and accessed from Anaplan’s data centers in the United States and Europe. That in turn could give rise to Anaplan as a de-facto planning platform, paving the way for enterprise-wide standardization while displacing home-grown corporate planning systems.

At the three-day conference, which attracted close to 1,000 attendees, Anaplan also announced deals with Box, Docusign and Google for Work, making available open-integration extensions that allow its customers to take full advantage of collaboration tools for project management, digital credentials and productivity apps, while running Anaplan simultaneously.

Cloud integration – connecting Cloud applications or a mix of Cloud and on-premise applications – also emerged as one of the recurring themes of the conference with customers and prospects scrambling for the best way to harness Cloud applications like Anaplan and their existing systems for billing, sales force automation as well as Core HR. A self-service, automated import / export tool called Anaplan Connect gets Anaplan customers up and running quickly. For more mature integrations, Anaplan primarily relies on Cloud integration tools like SnapLogic, Dell Boomi, Mulesoft (which recently received $128 million in new funding led by Salesforce Ventures) and Informatica, which have libraries of connectors to transaction systems. In addition, Anaplan also maintains a native connector with

The fact that Anaplan is growing faster than many of the upstart cloud players could be attributable to two key reasons: the scalability of its solution that makes it attractive for large enterprise planning needs and its extension into those functional areas beyond finance for integrated business planning, whereas competitors such as Adaptive Insights, Host Analytics and Tidemark have until recently been focusing primarily on finance. Like Anaplan, Adaptive Insights, Host Analytics and Tidemark have each received at least tens of millions of dollars in multiple rounds of funding in recent years.

Fred Laluyaux, who led SAP’s EPM business unit before he became CEO of Anaplan in 2012, said the vendor is positioned itself not to displace the SAP Business Planning and Consolidation(BPC) or Oracle Hyperion Financial Management(HFM) systems, but rather addressing customer pain points across multiple areas from finance to demand planning as well as industry-specific issues like planning network capacity for telcos or optimizing call-center agent workload for business process outsourcers.

“Planning is huge, we don’t need to do anything else,’’ Laluyaux added.

What that suggests is that Anaplan is also going after other sweet spots that are ripe for disruption such as incentive compensation planning and workforce optimization – competing with the likes of Callidus and NICE Systems, respectively, thus boosting its addressable space beyond the conventional confines of financial budgeting and planning. Additionally, Anaplan’s new apps include Inventory Planning and Segmentation, Demand Sensing as well as CapEx Planning.

Even within the confines of financial planning, trends like zero-based budgeting, which requires financial analysts and LOB executives to reverse the planning process by starting from a zero base for each new period, are redefining the value of EPM applications. Anaplan is working with Accenture to develop an app for zero-based budgeting as well.