The Future of Finance: Out with the Old, In with the New – Part 1

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently released a report called “Finance Function of the Future,” an exploration of the potential future direction of finance and how finance can make itself more effective at enabling and driving strategy, mediating external stakeholders, making the organization more resilient, and streamlining itself by connecting different areas. 

We took a look at their insights and had a few thoughts of our own. Please read our post below (Part 1 of 2 – stay tuned for Part 2 next week) and join the discussion. What do you think about finance as a function of the future? Please share in the comments section!

 

In the late 1970s, spreadsheets ruled. This transitioned to computer-assisted analysis in the 1980s, and then ERP systems in the 1990s. In the 2000s, this segued to… nothing? Despite the leaps and bounds that technology has made in the past decade, finance functions are still stuck in the last millennium.

PwC has a clear vision for the future of finance and breaks it down into four basic principles: Navigation, Mediation, Resilience, and Connectivity. We were pleased to find that the key differentiators for Anaplan all fit neatly into these principles. Take a look.

 

Navigation: help navigate in and outside the business in pursuit of opportunities during difficult and rapidly changing economies and markets 

Navigation with Anaplan:
It’s an unnecessary burden to have IT act as a middleman for planning. With Anaplan, you can change models on the fly – without expert intervention. As Jeff Brobst, VP of FP&A at McAfee, noted, “It’s next to impossible for IT to grasp the nuances of business rules across different business groups, forcing them into a one-size-fits-all approach.” Because Anaplan is simple and intuitive, a business user can pick it up with minimal time and training. This allows you turn the complexity of your business operations into powerful, easy-to-use models that can be changed on the fly. Patrick O’Brien, Senior Manager of Finance at Activision, said that his team vastly improved communication “almost overnight” with Anaplan: “We’re no longer dealing with force-fed, canned reporting; we’re manipulating data on-demand to show it in whatever way is more relevant to our questions.”

 

Mediation: act as mediators and communicate to a broad set of stakeholders in meaningful ways

Mediation with Anaplan:
Anaplan enables unparalleled trust and visibility into your data. You can easily audit, trace and manage all your data in conjunction with business rules and users – and be confident that your data and plans are telling a consistent story. Jeff Brobst of McAfee noted this in a recent webinar, “The audibility of the modeling is fantastic… There is no voodoo in how we came up with the numbers.” It also accelerates the reporting process. Bruce Dixon, VP of FP&A at Central European Media Enterprises, reported “Our Board Report turnaround time used to take six to eight working days. With Anaplan we’ve set a new record by turning the report around in two days.”

 

Resilience: provide foresight and protect the business from internal and external shocks, through predictive analytics and risk reporting

Resilience with Anaplan:
Empower your team with real-time modeling and advanced calculation engine that scales. Anaplan allows you to map all the relationships between your data. Brobst was thrilled with the transparency and foresight that Anaplan affords: “Our revenue forecast accuracy this last quarter was the best at Intel; it was like 0.1% variance. So across of all of Intel – a huge company – we have the best forecast accuracy because we are using these tools, we are iterating, and we have access to the lowest level of information to form calculated, smart decisions.”  Keep the curveballs in baseball – your business doesn’t need them.

 

Connectivity: ensure a more cohesive finance offering between staff and their teams, the business, technology, data, and shared services

Connectivity with Anaplan:
Anaplan connects people and plans across your organization – and it’s easy-to-use from anywhere and on almost any device. Jason Ryan, Senior Financial Analyst at Pandora, noted, “In a meeting I have been able to pull Anaplan up on my iPhone and provide an answer. I can be on my come computer and just login without having to go through a VPN or something like that.” The Anaplan platform also replaces disjointed spreadsheets and systems with a single, indisputable source of information. John Story, Business Improvement Manager at Story Homes, lauded this: “With Anaplan there is one truth of things; there is one consistency.”

 

Of course, it all comes down to people: they’re what make or break the future of finance. However, Anaplan arms you with the tools to enable that success. Stop by the blog next week for a deeper and more analytical dive into exactly how we do that.

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