App Hub ‘first and only application community dedicated to business planning’
Claims has grown customers and users in APAC by 200% year on year
CLOUD-based enterprise planning software company Anaplan believes its rapid growth, both globally and regionally, “is a testament” to how business planning is changing in the market.
The company currently claims more than 25,000 users globally. Competitors include established players such as IBM, Oracle and most notably SAP, which also provides an ERP (enterprise resource planning) software suite. SAP recently reported significant business wins in Asia and a 41% growth for its cloud computing tools business globally.
But in Anaplan’s eyes, the biggest player in town still has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to planning solutions.
In an email interview with Digital News Asia (DNA), Anaplan chief executive officer Fred Laluyaux said that Version I of the SAP Cloud for Planning is planned for release in 2015.
“So, today, no solution and no customers. There have been two releases of Cloud for Planning and they have all been called back as there was a ton of product issues,” he claimed.
Laluyaux also recalled an announcement made by SAP in September 2012 about its plans for the “greatest and the latest” planning solution on the cloud.
“But this was withdrawn within six months after zero customer acquisitions. SAP is obsessed with HANA. It’s no wonder it wants so badly to kick Oracle databases out of its installed base.
“But you can’t take a hammer and apply it to every problem. Different challenges require different tools,” he said.
Laluyaux said that smarter plans require analysing all the dimensions of a business, and pointed out that HANA is a real-time columnar database, so it’s not built to be a planning engine.
“SAP wants to deliver ‘simpler’ planning. Good for them for trying to make their complex products easier to use. But, we think what companies need is ‘smarter’ planning and better execution.
“That’s why we have the Hyper-cube at the core of Anaplan. It’s the right tool for optimising business strategy,” he declared.
Laluyaux (pic) said that SAP may “finally be waking up” to the fact that cloud is the future of enterprise software, but added that what the incumbent "doesn’t get is that the future is also about community and empowering a community to quickly access and share solutions.”
“Multiple partners have built specialised use case applications on Anaplan today, and with the announcement of Anaplan App Hub, everyone will be able to leverage this strategic expertise. That is the future of smarter business strategies, better plans and results,” he added.
The company formally launched its Anaplan App Hub, a community for 'Anaplanners' to build, share and deploy planning apps, during its customer conference Hub 2014 World Tour in London earlier today (Nov 13).
Anaplanners is the term used by the company to refer to users trained in its cloud-based enterprise planning software.
Laluyaux said that there’s “been some big noise from the competition lately about planning and analytics clouds.”
“We are so glad they are finally seeing the opportunity that Anaplan recognised years ago! It validates our vision, and we say thank you to Larry [Ellison, Oracle cofounder] and Hasso [Plattner, SAP cofounder] for doing some category marketing for the Planning Cloud.
“The best part is that our App Hub puts us way ahead of the game,” he claimed.
Touted as the ‘first-ever planning app community,' the App Hub brings together planning experts from a wide range of business domains, industries, and organisations including Hewlett-Packard, Kimberly-Clark, Pandora, Deloitte, and Workforce Insight.
The Hub builds on the company’s platform, positioned as an alternative to traditional legacy planning software and ad hoc spreadsheet projects, to create data-driven plans connected across departments.
Laluyaux described the platform as “the first and only application community dedicated to business planning.”
Central to the functionality of the Hub is the ability for users to share the applications they’ve built and take advantage of particular expertise and best practices delivered by other planning experts.
“It enables companies to deploy apps in minutes that can be tailored to solve their specific business challenges.
“This sharing of intellectual property is a radical shift in the way enterprise planning software is developed, enriched, and consumed,” Laluyaux added.
Now open for business
Laluyaux claimed that customers have been “very forthcoming with their praise on how beneficial Anaplan has been for them.”
“The Anaplan App Hub was created based on key takeaways we garnered from listening to our customers. We found that many were experiencing similar problems in terms of their business planning requirements,” he said.
The Hub launches with 40 planning apps across 10 industries including Budgeting, Planning and Forecasting, Sales Forecasting, Trade and Promotion Planning, Territory and Quota Planning, Financial Consolidation, Incentive Compensation Planning, Strategic Financial Planning, Insurance Premium Planning, and Human Asset and Labour Optimisation (Halo) amongst others.
Applications are all built on the Anaplan platform and are based on a set of business dimensions and rules, calculations, and customisable dashboards with no programming required to tailor them.
The platform was designed to enable users to quickly discover applications built for their industry and customise them to solve planning challenges whilst adhering to the regulation requirements of their business.
They can also build their own planning applications on the platform and share them with others.
In addition, whether the application is developed by Anaplan, one of its partners, or an expert modeller in a specific industry, customers are fully supported.
“If a customer installs a packaged Anaplan app, the Anaplan Apps team is available for support 24/7; likewise, if a partner app is installed, our partners will support should any assistance be required, through the App Hub,” Laluyaux said.
Jeff Brobst, vice president of financial planning and analysis at security software firm McAfee said that his team created 20 applications in the time the company had been using Anaplan.
“Now that we’re in the cloud, our users are really in control, building sophisticated applications that are integrated with other plans and outside data sources. What we’ve learned as part of the Anaplan community is that the problems are almost the same across enterprises.
“Once someone cracks the code on a problem, it’s really great to be able to pass that on. With the App Hub, you’re not only getting application contributions from customers but really tightly written applications from vertical industry experts that you can just plug right in,” he said in a statement released by Anapland.
Sam Kapreilian, chief technology officer at Deloitte Tax LLP, said the Anaplan App Hub gives his company “a powerful and scalable way” to package the company’s industry and business insights for clients.
“Through the Hub, tax departments can access resources to help them better analyse the tax implications of major business decisions including talent mobility, transfer pricing, and M&A (mergers and acquisitions) transactions,” he added.
Laluyaux declared that the Hub “changes enterprise software forever” as it establishes the first-ever planning app community that brings together experts from a wide range of business domains, industries, and organisations.
he said the platform is based on an open-content model, similar to open-source strategy for computer programming, a community for business planning experts across the enterprise to find the best-of-breed applications for their business function.
It also enables one-click provisioning, so apps are activated in seconds with no dependency on IT and no coding required.
“We have some amazing partners who are happy to share their industry knowledge and expertise with other Anaplanners.
“It's all about collaboration and knowledge sharing, and the goal is to speed up implementation and provide business users with solutions at their fingertips at all times,” he added.
Laluyaux claimed that the company has hundreds of blueprints from across client engagements in the immediate pipeline, so “it won’t be long” before the Hub is populated with hundreds of apps built by Anaplan, partners and customers.
Asian Anaplanner army
Responding to questions from DNA via email, Anaplan’s Asia Pacific managing director Samir Neji (pic) claimed that the company has seen “tremendous uptake” of its platform and applications in the region.
“We have grown more than 200% year-on-year for customers and users in the Asia Pacifc region – from China to Australia, India to Japan,” he said.
Anaplan offers global support on all four continents – including locations in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Sydney.
“We have hundreds of Anaplanners in South Korea, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Australia and several other countries in the region.
“One will be amazed by the planning community and expertise from our partner resources and independent industry model specialists. We have more than 30 use-case scenarios [from] our customers in Asia Pacific.
“In another words, they are replacing custom-build solution with Anaplan for lower total cost of ownership and better competitive advantage. We work across Sales, Finance and Operations in core industries and this is expanding exponentially,” he added.
He said that Anaplan has early adopter customers in many of the Asia Pacific countries, but the company is still in its growing phase of adoption.
The company’s Global Fortune 2000 customers and their best practices are reaching Asian enterprises and the team is seeing adoption at a faster pace this year.
“Further collaboration is a universal process and it’s catching on as fast as the growth of Facebook or LinkedIn. We are building the required support structure to service this huge market space and that’s our focus now,” he said.
Samir said that Anaplan’s customers are typically Fortune 2000 companies which have many products, services and channels of distribution that, because of the scale of their business, usually demand a high level of collaboration.
“Invariably, we also reach out to companies that want to be able to build and connect plans across their organisations or with their partners, flexibly and effectively adapt to business disruption, get insight and visibility into drives behind KPIs (key performance indicators), and gain confidence in the integrity of data, reports, forecasts and plans,” he added.
Meanwhile, Laluyaux said that expectations for Anaplan App Hub in South-East Asia are the same as those in all other markets the company is present in: Continued adoption, with hopes for an ever-growing community and platform and a vibrant app store.
“We believe that in order for businesses to be able to remain competitive in their respective markets, they need to be able to innovate quicker and improve forecasting capability across sales, operations and finance – all on one platform.
“We can’t have demand planning in one software, financial planning in another, sales planning in a third platform, and manpower planning in a fourth platform, and so on. Our software is replacing over 80 apps in enterprise business today and our customers are aggressively adopting and growing on their own,” he added.
For more information about the Anaplan App Hub, click here.
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