Strategy board games have been having a moment lately. One reason for their popularity is they put you in charge of all sorts of daring enterprises, from settling a new land to building railroads, even terraforming Mars.
Another part of these games’ appeal is that they provide a scaled-down world where everything that could happen has been mapped out, and everything you need to know fits in the manual. The variables are limited enough that you can solve your little world’s resource problems in the course of an evening’s play.
Real life, of course, is much bigger and more unpredictable. As they plan for the future, enterprise leaders need to be prepared for sudden changes in anything from consumer demand to oil prices or government policies.
At least they aren’t flying blind; they can draw on vast amounts of information, from both inside and outside their operations. The trouble is, is it’s just too much information for one person to digest. (If you think “1830” is complicated, try solving the Traveling Salesman Problem with a hundred package delivery trucks, the Monday before Christmas, in a snowstorm.)
Artificial intelligence (AI) could fill the gap with analytics and forecasting. But it turns out many companies find it too hard to use, requiring elaborate data loading protocols and expert data scientists to train the tools. Then there’s the challenge of focusing on the right information – not just high-level historical data, which may not be a reliable foundation for new forecasts.
Business leaders may have huge data sets, but they’re missing the opportunity to derive more insights from them. They need intelligence-based tools that help them model and predict trends with agility, so they can make better decisions – no matter how the dice land.
Making advanced analytics user-friendly
That’s what we’re delivering with Anaplan PlanIQTM, a new tool that democratizes access to advanced analytics by delivering insights that are explainable and predictions that can improve the accuracy of plans and drive confident decision-making.
For example, energy companies can leverage time series forecasting based on historical and external data to anticipate spikes in demand caused by winter storms and adjust their supply accordingly. Salespeople can integrate greater sources of data to accurately pinpoint the likeliest segments of their markets to target.
Expanding your data reach
In contrast to the opaque workings of some AI-based tools, PlanIQ is built on an open-box approach to machine learning. An intuitive “wizard”-like interface explains what assumptions and drivers the tool is using to generate its forecasts and allows uses to configure them. Users can draw on both internal and external data sources, such as inventory levels, competitor pricing, weather changes, consumer buying behavior, or other leading indicators.
PlanIQ comes pre-integrated with Amazon Forecast, allowing users to evaluate larger volumes of data for less effort. The result: Forecasts that continuously improve the more information they’re given. And users can run automated analysis and inference, using the built-in ML guidance to choose the best predictive model and uncover hidden insights.
Convenience and customization
Plus, PlanIQ allows the convenience of both automatic or user-driven ML training. In the user-driven mode, it runs a number of algorithms and tests forecasts across a variety of models. Then it serves the user the results in layperson terms, allowing them to select the model that best fits their scenario, industry, and desired outcome. Either way, business users can derive ML-driven forecasts themselves, avoiding the tedious configurations that previously required data scientists.
Moreover, they can schedule forecasts at desired intervals, from hourly to monthly, or make ad-hoc predictions. They can fine-tune models by comparing forecast findings with actual outcomes.
Not just more information, but better insights
The challenge has never been bigger to stay top of volatile business conditions by making the right predictions. PlanIQ lets you expand the reach of the information you work with – historical trends, third-party data sources, internal business applications, and cutting-edge predictive algorithms – and draw conclusions from it fast and flexibly, in order to make more accurate forecasts and successful plans.
Anaplan PlanIQ will become generally available in the second half of 2021.
To learn more about PlanIQ, read this solution brief.