Anaplan added to its credentials as a provider of complex, large scale, business modelling and analytics software in the cloud at its UK User Conference “Anaplan Hub” last week. Presentations from Aviva, the insurer and HP, the computer company showed assured capability in high volume, distributed and multidimensional planning and sales performance applications respectively. Gary Simon, FSN’s managing editor was on hand to also hear Frederic Laluyaux, CEO Anaplan, unveil new financial consolidation capability, interfaces and plans for shared Apps.
If there were any lingering doubts about the musculature (scale, complexity and processing speed) of Anaplan’s business modelling prowess in the Cloud then this conference quickly set them aside. Large scale implementations by Aviva and HP illustrated that Anaplan’s core Hyperblock technology (imbued with multi-core, 64 bit and in-memory processing) could handle the most demanding of models, i.e. with billions of cells, dynamic hierarchies and real time model changes. For example, HP’s Vittorio Sanvito, Director, EMEA EG Sales Productivity & GTM, explained that his ‘Sales Performance Management’ application in Anaplan covered 4,000 sales representatives, 22,427 customer sales quotas, 79 different sales plans, 165 sales metrics, 61 countries and currencies, 10 million transactions per month, 4,000 bonuses and 70 different SLA’s with third party organizations. Darren Craddock, Director of Planning & Forecasting, Aviva, one of the world’s largest insurers added to Anaplan’s credibility at the high end of the market. Aviva had used Anaplan to model the complexity of the entire life and general insurance business. The financial planning application allowed Aviva to effect greater control over the allocation of capital as well as the measurement of key performance indicators such as cash generation, operating profit and the value of long time life contracts. Both live use cases come hard on the heels of recent success at McAfee and Diageo.
“Looking at the range of modelling applications across our customers it is difficult to put Anaplan in a box. It’s a modelling platform and I suppose the common denominator is complexity”, Frederic Laluyaux said. “We are disrupting the market,” he added.
But delivering such complex models did not come with long and expensive implementation timescales. Both Aviva and HP talked about shared implementation effort with Anaplan taking a surprisingly short amount of time (as little as a couple of months) and both organizations drew comfort from the impressive speed at which Anaplan could build a proof of concept – where other established software providers shied away.
Setting aside Anaplan’s ambitious growth plans and the pace at which it has already grown there were signs that Anaplan has the potential to disrupt the market still further. Michael Gould, Anaplan’s chief technology officer, unveiled plans for a new user interface, with a more ‘social’ feel, and cleaner (less cluttered) more intuitive graphical displays.
But the surprise announcement of the event was the launch (and demonstration) of Anaplan’s consolidation capability. In a bold move designed to re-enforce its credentials at the high end of the market, Fred Laluyaux had shrewdly recruited Michel Morel, formerly co-founder and chief technology officer of Cartesis, a supplier of industrial strength consolidation systems before it was snapped up by Business Objects and SAP. It’s a smart move in a field in which true expertise is in short supply and Morel has wasted no time in developing the consolidation capability, which, from an initial glance, appeared to competently cover off most bases.
And no cloud conference is complete these days without talking about Apps. Fred Laluyaux set out his vision to rapidly introduce an App store in which business modellers, affectionately called “Anaplanners” could share best practice and working models, perhaps exchanging them for free, for a trial or for a fee.
So is Anaplan a “disruptive” force in the market? It certainly appears that way when established vendors remain wary of a ‘proof of concept’ and have to resort to legions of consultants to do their implementations. Anaplan has succeeded where others have failed because of its patented technology allied to a very committed organizational culture. FSN’s guess is that the ability to combine planning and consolidation with a formidable modelling engine is going to disrupt the market. In no uncertain terms Anaplan has thrown down the gauntlet to established players such as SAP, Oracle and IBM.