Excelitas Technologies eliminates spreadsheet errors with Anaplan.

Excelitas’ CIO Amit Shah shares how his company implemented Anaplan in just 10 weeks—and achieved flexibility, agility, and speed.

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My name is Amit Shah. I work for a company called Excelitas Technologies, and my title is Chief Information Officer or CIO.

Excelitas is a global company with 17 different factories worldwide. We have close to 5,500 employees; we are a hyper-growth company. We have doubled our revenue and employees in the last five years through organic and inorganic growth. We participate in multiple markets like defence and aerospace, analytical and consumer, and we make products that go into a lot of applications that require optic electronics and optics.

We zeroed in on three to four different companies, and Anaplan was one of the companies that I really liked. From my perspective, we liked the fact that it was a platform—it allowed us to build applications that fit our business model, rather than some black-box application that I have to use in a way that they think I should run my business. We liked the fact that it’s scalable—it’s very easy to manage once you design an application. So I can give it to our business users; I don’t have to have IT managing every aspect of the application, so the time to value was much faster than some of their competitors. I really liked those aspects.

The proof-of-concept was done in a little less than two weeks. We presented that proof-of-concept to our SVP of Sales, our EVP of a half-a-billion-dollar business, our COO, our CFO, and they were very impressed. That made getting funding much easier. Then we selected a partner called BetterVu, and we kicked off the project. Within 10 weeks, we had the application up and running—and we just went live last week.

As I mentioned, we sell into multiple markets. We have close to 10,000 customers and 20,000 parts, and we have to forecast for all the things we make. Our goal is to give products to our customer when they want it, without building up inventories. The sales forecasting is very important for supply chain planning and making sure we are able to deliver on our promise to our customers.

Before Anaplan, we had a combination of a Salesforce.com-based application, which was designed in-house, and thousands of Excel® files.

Each Excel® file had anything from 16,000–20,000 rows, and each file up to 50–100mb. I used to joke with my sales op lead Richard Ancorn that “you clog my email system” because he used to email those files to his colleagues all day long.

Before Anaplan, we just had a bunch of information silos living in Excel® files and other enterprise applications—and it wasn’t giving us the flexibility, the speed, the agility we were looking for to respond to the market conditions.

Number one, we are far more productive. We are not wasting time correcting Excel® mistakes. We are able to reduce the time it takes to do sales forecasting. Because it’s a cloud-based application, as long as you have some kind of connectivity, you can connect into it and modify your data as you need.

First and foremost, I can see our sales forecasting process has become far more productive—and that is very important from my perspective. Second, it allows us to be agile. As our business changes, we participate in all different markets. And our customers, they all want to go to market fast, and we have to supply them with the products they need. So our business continuously changes—as the pace of innovation changes, our business model will change. If we cannot change with our customers, we will be left behind. From my perspective, I have given our sales organization a tool that allows them to be very agile and make our customers successful.

A decade ago, CIOs were about ERP systems, and which version of database and what hardware we use. We don’t worry about that, and we shouldn’t worry about that, today. Today, I worry about time to value. I need to create products. I need to support our business organization [so that] we can create value as fast as they need us to add value—and for me, that is the number-one thing on my list.

There are areas within our business where we need to provide [users] the tools and technology that allows them to manage themselves. Sales is definitely one of those areas where we want to empower them with a tool that works for them, without a significant assistance from an IT organization.

For us, I think the platform, first and foremost, has to be agile. It has to allow us to change our applications as the business changes. That’s number one. It needs to be scalable.

I want to make sure as a CIO [that] as we acquire companies, we are able to integrate them and make them part of our core corporate processes. Scalability is equally important to me. The other thing is, we are living in an age where predictabilities is huge. We really want to make sure [the] solution we design has some intelligence built into it, and Anaplan allows us to do that for our sales forecasting, supply chain planning, and other core business processes, where we can take back the feedback of what we thought would happen versus what happened and continuously improve the output.

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