I spent a few hours at Anaplan’s annual Hub conference in Vegas. It is my first time at an Anaplan event and I sensed the buzz of a vendor going through a phase of rapid growth and having to manage expectations when you are tagged as a ‘unicorn” based on your valuation. The executives seemed irked at the number of times analysts asked them about how they would scale to the Rule of 40 for healthy SaaS companies and when they would go IPO.
The fundamentals look good – the company says its “addressable market” is $ 21 billion a year, Europe is ramping up nicely and Asia is poised to kick in. The company’s tagline of “connected planning” has allowed for use cases for its in-memory “HyperBlock” to crunch datasets across many parts of the enterprise. This was good to see when way too many analytical and ERP vendors focus mostly on the finance function.
Two things stood out for me in the brief time I spent there:
One is the vertical applications of the tool that I am not sure even Anaplan fully understands. I spent some time with Kevin Collins who is head of Revenue Growth Management at Beam Suntory. He described how they simulate price elasticity in their category of premium spirits. It was fascinating to hear him talk about weather, seasonality, competitive moves as they model pricing and other market signals. What they have learned can also apply to marketing spend and sales promotion incentive funds (SPIFs) in their regulated markets. At the event, Walmart presented on how they had moved from spreadsheets to Anaplan for their open-to-buy inventory planning. Coca-Cola described how the tools help in their supply chain planning across their complex network of franchises. In a conversation with the new Chief Revenue Officer, Steve Birdsall I heard of next-gen opportunities around Smart Cities and verticals with IoT applications.
Second is how machines are poised to revolutionize planning and analytics. Frank Calderoni, CEO announced “Planning as we know it is dead”. Machines are increasingly easier to train with the gobs of data and computing capacity we now have. I was more intrigued with how Anaplan is starting to look at how machines will help infer drivers and other nuances in analytical models and how they will facilitate ingestion of streaming, real-time data.
I look forward to spending more time with Anaplan, but even more with its customers and learning more innovative ways they simulate their businesses while getting away from the over-dependence on spreadsheets and old school business intelligence tools they find themselves mired in.