Planning for what’s next

This week, more than 1,600 attendees are in Las Vegas for one of the largest FP&A gatherings ever. They’re here from six continents. They represent 40 different industries.

They’re here at Adaptive Live 2019, our annual gathering for Adaptive Insights customers, to learn about the future—their future. At a time when organizations of all kinds face perpetual, unrelenting change—driven by globalization, regulatory change, and digital transformation—these innovators know that to win, they must plan. And they know planning itself is changing, so they’re here to find out what that means for them.

They’re here to plan for what’s next.

In breakout sessions focused on the most effective planning best practices, in spotlights of breakthrough innovations, in up-close tutorials and one-on-one consultations with product experts, in networking lunches and coffee breaks, and in keynotes exploring the implications of digital transformation, Adaptive Live attendees will be able to chart their own journeys toward adopting active planning processes that are collaborative, comprehensive, and continuous.

Planning is where strategy and execution meet, which is why modern business planning has emerged as a competitive advantage for organizations aiming to operate with agility. And these days, with the pace of change accelerating, success is a moving target. To think fast and move first, companies must embrace a new model or risk watching their competitors leave them behind.

It can be overwhelming and disorienting to realize that we don’t know what’s coming, and we’re not sure when or how we must respond to that future. How do you plan when you can’t clearly see what’s coming next? Navigating through this kind of uncertainly requires different skills. It requires people—and the companies they work for—to be resilient, flexible, open to change, willing to take risks. Most of all, it requires us to be agile.

Machine learning: Harnessing the power of data

Because successful organizations are defined by their ability to adapt to change—to operate with agility—our R&D team is summoning powerful new technologies to help them do just that. One such technology is machine learning, which promises to change business planning processes profoundly—just as spreadsheets did 40 years ago.

Machine learning will help organizations harness the power of their data for even more confident, rapid decision-making. Combined with scalable, modern cloud planning, machine learning will enable finance teams to evolve from their current role of being primarily descriptive about what’s happening with the business to becoming much more prescriptive about what should happen.

In the coming era, planning systems will operate much like a navigation system for finance teams. Think of it as GPS for business. The business specifies its goals and where it wants to go, and the planning system analyzes all available data about past and current business performance. Then it intuits the most important drivers and offers potential scenarios along with their respective pros and cons.

Systems like this will equip finance teams to take on this more prescriptive role by serving as providers of continuous guidance to the business—navigators who chart the various paths, or scenarios, that will lead the business to its chosen destination.

Meet the future of planning

So how will machine learning evolve business planning? In several ways.

  • Anomaly detection. We’ll use machine learning to catch and alert users to potential errors in plan data. The system will then offer time series predictions based on both machine learning and statistical modeling
  • Augmented analytics. Planning systems will increasingly and deeply intertwine with analysis. Augmented analytics will automatically identify trends and opportunities, then point these out to users as personalized insights in narrative, headline form
  • High-impact business drivers. The systems will learn to identify which drivers will have the most impact on key business metrics, leading to increasingly accurate simulations and the ability to stress-test various scenarios
  • Confidence bands. Planning systems will be able to give you a confidence assessment based on past performance and understanding of trends. Is this a 90% probability plan or a 50% likely plan?
  • Self-optimization. One advantage of machine learning is its ability to identify the most effective patterns and behaviors and then optimize the system’s performance based on those lessons. As a result, we expect planning systems to perform optimizations that help select the best path to achieve specific business objectives within a set of defined constraints

The Seattle Sounders, a Major League Soccer franchise, was an early design partner with us on anomaly detection and will be among the first Business Planning Cloud customers to use this new capability. Already, the franchise relies on the Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud to blend financial and operational data for scenario planning. These capabilities allow the organization to evaluate multiyear deals for players and determine which clubs to select for international friendly matches by weighing variables including ticket sales and travel costs. This is the future of planning—a future in which business users, not just data scientists, can wield data-driven insights as they navigate change in an always changing world.

At Adaptive Live this week, attendees are discovering that to plan for what’s next at a time when anything is possible, you need visibility, insight, confidence—and a planning system that never stops adapting. They, along with all our 4,000+ customers, are finding it in the Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud.

Visit our Customer Success section to learn how Adaptive Insights has helped companies big and snall transform FP&A with active planning.

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