Adaptive Live: 8 Insights Into the Finance Revolution

Adaptive Live Entrance

It’s a wrap! Adaptive Live 2016 concluded Thursday evening after two full days of training, new innovation announcements, industry-sessions, and engaging keynote speakers. The conference offered an ongoing exchange of knowledge, expertise, and best practices between Adaptive Insights, partners, and customers.

Thursday’s agenda was highlighted by the annual Torchie Awards, which honor some of Adaptive Insights’ most progressive and successful customers in a range of categories related to finance transformation. Conference participants also got a look at the recently announced Adaptive Suite 2016.2 product release that offers enhancements that bring together disparate data sources for new business insights, accelerating data-driven decision-making, and improving overall business agility.

This year’s Adaptive Live provided the opportunity to celebrate Adaptive Insights’ newest customers—and its oldest. Adaptive Insights crossed the 3,000th customer mark in December, and celebrated that milestone with a commitment to plant 3,000 trees in California’s Tahoe National Forest, in honor of its 3,000 customers. At Adaptive Live, the company also recognized its very first customer—NASCO—a company that put its confidence in Adaptive Insights back in 2005 and remains an active Adaptive Insights user and advocate 11 years later.

“We’re still with Adaptive Insights quite simply because it works,” said Jodi Falk, financial manager II with NASCO. “We’ve socialized Adaptive throughout the organization and made it part of our culture. I’m proud and honored to be part of this.”

Ultimately, the strength of the Adaptive Live user conference is the opportunity to share best practices and key insights. To that end, here are eight key takeaways from this year’s event:

The finance revolution has arrived:
Clearly, many Adaptive Insights customers aren’t waiting for other leaders in their organizations to be agents of change. We heard plenty of stories at Adaptive Live of finance leading the transformative journey toward a culture of analytics. For instance, ZAGG turned to Adaptive Insights after a big miss on quarterly earnings a few years back. “Before Adaptive Insights, the forecast process was a disaster,” said Jason Bingham, ZAGG manager of FP&A. “Now we have a bottoms-up approach to sales forecasting and have moved from monthly forecasts to weekly forecasts. We are much more accurate in both our reporting and forecasting. It’s been a total culture shift at our organization.”

A single source of truth drives transformation:
“We were married to Excel and the marriage was crumbling faster than an over-baked cookie,” said customer Irina Krasnoperova, business application analyst with Arbor Networks. “We had multiple data sources living in different systems and spreadsheets.”

Thanks to Adaptive Insights, Krasnoperova led her organization toward defining a data pool that is now a single source of truth. “With fresh, accurate data the executive management team is now seeing the exact same data that the sales team sees,” she said. “So all those arguments we used to have about the numbers being accurate in Excel are now a thing of the past. The 15 minutes that we used to spend arguing about the numbers, we now spend discussing deal close strategies. It’s totally transformational.” Connie DeWitt - Adaptive Live

Planning and analytics are better together:
For too long, planning and data analysis have been two separate processes, limiting the ability for finance to efficiently generate actionable insights. Adaptive Insights’ latest product release brings together planning and analytics into a single seamless process giving users the ability to gain a level of visibility and foresight via a self-service model previously not possible. The new features represent critical milestones on the path to enabling pervasive analytics—a capability that embeds analytics into the operational and transactional applications needed to run the business.

“By bringing analytics into planning, we enable users to deeply analyze data during the planning process, and make informed decisions without ever having to leave the planning environment—dramatically accelerating decision-making and business agility,” said Connie DeWitt, SVP of product management for Adaptive Insights.

Users seek to forecast the future:
More accurate forecasting is a key benefit for Adaptive Insights users—and many customers are leveraging those capabilities. Sheila Jessup-Schwarz, VP corporate controller, at Synergy Global Housing, uses Adaptive Insights to forecast a range of scenarios two years into the future, including the potential impact of a recession. “It’s been amazing,” she said. “There is a lot of tribal knowledge within our organization and when it’s applied inside Adaptive Insights and rolled out, it’s very actionable information.”

CEOs want data to drive profits:
A recent KPMG survey, “A view from the top” captured responses from 549 CEOs sharing their perspective about the role of CFOs. The survey found that 85% of CEOs said that “applying financial data to achieve profitable growth is the greatest strategic value a CFO can bring to an organization.” Keynote speaker Morris Treadway from KPMG views that finding as a call for CFOs to create a “culture of action” in their organizations.

“You have to think beyond finance,” Treadway said. “You have to understand finance, but you have to also understand what is new with your products, what is new with your customers, and what is new in your markets. Know your product strategy. Know the business. Then apply the analytics to get results.”

C-Suite views differ on CFO focus:
Adaptive Insights most recent CFO Indicator Q1 2016 Report found a disconnect between how CEOs and CFOs view the role of CFO. For instance, 65% of CFOs cited technical and analytical skills as the most important attribute to their performance, while CEOs ranked that skillset the lowest (8%) priority in the KPMG survey. During the CFO Symposium at Adaptive Live, Adaptive Insights Founder and Chairman Rob Hull emphasized the need for more alignment between CEOs and CFOs around the key roles and responsibilities of the CFO. “It’s increasingly important for the office of the CFO to derive insights from data—and then conduct scenario analyses to assess what it might mean to the business moving forward,” Hull said.

Strategic CFOs get noticed:
Indeed, it appears that those CFOs that do make the shift from tactical to more strategic roles are getting results—and getting noticed. Twenty percent of Adaptive Insights customers are included in the Deloitte Fast 500 Technology list. In addition, 40 percent of the finalists for the 2016 Bay Area CFO of the Year Awards are Adaptive Insights customers. “They are using Adaptive to change the way they manage the business and to generate actionable insights to create transformative change,” said Adaptive Insights CEO Tom Bogan.

There are no limits:
Polar explorer and keynote speaker Ben Saunders inspired everyone with his story of record-breaking treks in the coldest, most unforgiving places on the planet. He said one source of inspiration is a note from a grade-school teacher who stated, “Ben lacks sufficient impetus to achieve anything worthwhile.” Saunders admitted to the Adaptive Live audience that he still reads the note from time to time. “If I have learned anything in the last 15 years, it is that no one else is the authority on your potential,” Saunders said. “You are the only one who decides what your limits are and what you are capable of achieving.”

Read the Day One Adaptive Live recap – Helping Customers Navigate the Finance Journey

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