Business Intelligence Redefined


Simon Tucker

Chief Planning Officer

We’ve been doing a lot of work here at Anaplan over the last few months, enhancing the visualization, advanced modeling and analytical capabilities of our Business Intelligence Platform. These enhancements on top of the core BI Platform have enabled us to redefine what Business Intelligence really is.

So what is Business Intelligence? I’ve been in this industry for almost 20 years in one way or another. Either inside a software company or as an advisor. I’ve been through the enterprise planning phase of the 80’s and 90’s, the BI gold rush of the early to mid 90’s and the EPM, BPM, CPM bandwagon of the 2000’s. Software companies sure are good at coming up with an acronym for solutions they think companies will/should or do, use.

I have a strong operations background, especially when it comes to operational to financial metrics/outcomes so I am lucky enough to have a perspective from an actual company point of view, versus just a vendor.

What really made me stop and think about what all this ‘company performance tracking stuff’ is though was on a visit to Google some time ago. I’d honestly got to a point where I wasn’t sure the latest craze, (then CPM/BPM/EPM) had taken hold inside the enterprise.

So I stopped the Google executive I was meeting with in the corridor and asked him, ‘what do you guys call all this ‘stuff’?’ He stopped and of course asked me what I meant by ‘all this stuff’ to which I replied, ‘you know, analytics, reporting, planning, business modeling and so on’. All the stuff we use to keep track of the business and forecast what we think we will do’.

‘Oh, well you guys call it EPM right, we just call it Business Intelligence. We don’t really know what EPM is. It’s all just Business Intelligence to us’.

Was this a revelation? Well, kind of. You may be asking what the punch line is. Isn’t this obvious? Well, not really, and here’s why. Companies do see performance tracking and prediction in their companies as Business Intelligence. In fact that’s one of the top agenda items for CIO’s, (help support growth by getting their companies better visibility to data to track, manage and predict performance, see (as well as moving to the cloud, outlined in the same Gartner report). Also see The Cloud Rises to Top of 2011 CIO Priorities.

But, when they select a Business Intelligence tool, (and by the way most are tools versus solutions), they get an analytics and reporting solution that allows them to see where they have been and where they are. Not much help for the future. Most Business Intelligence tools don’t cater for the full spectrum of decision-making and debate that organizations need to do. So invariably they go out and buy other point solutions for the parts/processes that are missing/not supported by the current Business Intelligence tool. More silos, more mess, more time, more money.

As you’ll see later in this post, there are 5 aspects to Business Intelligence and decision-making, not just two as delivered by most vendors. And trying to cover all 5 of these processes with multiple solutions versus a single platform is really yesterday’s thinking. Especially given the cloud. (Did I mention the cloud was a top CIO agenda item).

From a practical standpoint, all companies want is to have a repeatable process from which to analyze data, discuss scenarios, make decisions, execute and review. We call it GADDE, which stands for;

  • Gather
  • Analyze
  • Debate
  • Decide
  • Execute

I’ll talk more detail about GADDE in another post, but I am sure you get the idea of a practical decision-making process. I’ve used this process with lots of executives. Of course, to do that right across the company, (all functions, all layers) you need a solution that delivers value in all 5 of those areas, or to put it more accurately, can technically support each process with appropriate solutions.

Problem is, classically self-anointed BI vendors fall short when it comes to delivering the ‘Business Intelligence’ that businesses need to support growth, (only offering solutions that look to the past or present). They also fall short in the way they deliver it to the customer, (delivering, in many cases, a solution on an outdated technology backbone needing armies of highly skilled consultants, or a pseudo-cloud technology that will at least put them in the same room as the cool kids who really are cloud vendors). So IMHO traditional BI vendors have three problems;

  • An incomplete solution
  • A go to market/delivery mechanism designed 30 years ago that people are starting to strongly question
  • Point solutions to cater for what should be a very cohesive, collaborative business decision-making process

So how can we be so bold and make these statements? How have we redefined Business Intelligence?

The reason is we have spent the last 5 years building a single pure-bred SaaS/Business Intelligence Cloud Platform that combines what we, and many of the enterprises out there, call Business Intelligence. That single Platform supports the basic decision-making processes that companies need to go through, (we call it GADDE) as well as the key technical aspects that support those processes, namely;

  • Analytics
  • Modeling
  • Forecasting
  • Planning
  • Reporting

Now anyone can make the claim they have redefined Business Intelligence, but it’s not just about technology. It’s about how you come to market and deliver the Platform to the client. Now that’s redefined.

Anaplan comes to market with;

  • Unlimited users
  • Fast start – get your cloud in seconds, your model in minutes, your implementation in days
  • Self-service – no code, no rocket scientists needed; just you and your design skills
  • IT friendly – we love IT and they’ll love Anaplan. Safe and secure in the cloud and they don’t need to spend their time managing the technical back end
  • Extendable – you can build and deploy your owns models from scratch or extend the hundreds of pre-configured models we have available
  • Low COCO – cost of cloud ownership is low compared to other clouds and especially to the on-premise solutions – no hardware, no software, no user limits

Sure, no problem. Sign up for the Anaplan challenge, or even email me at and I’d be happy to back up our claims.

Seeing is believing and experiencing Anaplan will make you a believer. I guarantee it.