ETR Insights: Anaplan Feedback Panel 

Best in Class Solution Uses ROI to Drive Land & Expand Strategy

Erik Bradley | Jake Fabrizio 

| June 03, 2021

By client demand, this ETR Insights panel focused on Anaplan. Our goal was to leverage the experience of the ETR Community members to examine the cloud-based planning and analysis space. Our panel consisted of the CIO for a large Industrials enterprise, a Digital Transformation Executive for a Business Services firm, a CTO for a Travel & Hospitality Enterprise, and the Director of IT for a Technology enterprise. The summary below delivers the key takeaways from the panel, including current Anaplan use cases, expansion plans, ROI, and competitive positioning.

Overall Review. If our readers are pressed on time, the bottom line is that Anaplan is viewed as the “best in class solution in the planning and forecasting space” that is routinely used to augment or displace existing solutions like Host, Hyperion (Oracle) and SAP. Once in place, Anaplan is very successful in delivering ROI, driving user adoption, and expanding across departments. Despite meteoric valuation growth, OneStream is viewed as an “application, not a platform” that was founded specifically to usurp Oracle’s Hyperion customers within finance-specific use cases. As the market heats up, it is ripe for consolidation. With SAP being an early investor in Anaplan and OneStream’s founders coming out of Oracle, the seeds have already been sown, although as one panelist stated, “my money is always on Microsoft.” For those readers with a few more minutes to spare, indulge me in perusing the sections below for more details.

Expanding Use Cases & COVID Impact. Anaplan management consistently touts its land & expand strategy within existing accounts, and our panelists confirm that the strategy is effective. One guest stated that Anaplan entered his organization as a “secondary option to Oracle for financial planning…and now is used across the globe and spreading into marketing and supply chain, as well.” Another CTO has lived through “6 ERP implementations and used Anaplan 3 or 4 times now…always displacing Hyperion or SAP.” Two others discussed the varying impact that COVID had on Anaplan’s usage within their organizations. In both instances, the ensuing remote work shift “accelerated the adoption,” although one panelist went further stating that “COVID expanded the use cases because we realized how well Anaplan worked and realized that Hyperion wasn’t helping…now we are halfway into moving from Hyperion to Anaplan.” The other stated that COVID-related end-user adoption drove up costs unexpectedly and therefore halted plans to expand Anaplan into other departments, although he added that “the economy is returning, so there is confidence to invest in additional functionality with Anaplan.”

ROI. Management touts impressive ROI for its land & expand success, and although the 300% metric boasted on the company’s website “might be a little much,” the tool “is like the Snowflake of financial planning because it can demonstrate ROI quickly.” In addition, “the ability to forecast provides competitive advantages in managing operational costs.” Another panelist added that it was easy to sell the CFO based on the “amount of time saved on FP&A analysts building and sharing models.”

Competition. As judged by submitted questions, ETR’s clients were most concerned about OneStream, and with the recent Series B valuation of $6 billion, it seems a reasonable trepidation. Our panelists put those fears to rest. In their words, “OneStream is basically what Hyperion should have been if Oracle had put it in the cloud. It is optimized for finance but falls down for use cases in other departments…like sales.” Another added that OneStream is a great product for finance, but “wasn’t ready for a company of our size and complexity.” With the co-founders, engineering, and sales all migrating from Oracle, our panelists believe that OneStream’s singular goal is take Hyperion customers away from Oracle given the company’s continued flailing attempts at cloud infrastructure. On OneStream’s ability to compete with Anaplan, one stated, “if they are coming from historically legacy organizations, they are going to stay legacy-minded. It just perpetuates an echo effect of where they came from.” Legacy players like Oracle still do not have the cloud capabilities to “even be on the radar for most CIOs,” and despite still trying to give away Adaptive for free, not one of our panelists took the bait from Workday either. One name that came up as a company to monitor was the rebranded Host Analytics, now operating as Planful and making a real marketing push into the SMB marketplace.

Potential Consolidation. The momentum of Anaplan and OneStream will attract attention, with SAP and Oracle being the obvious suitors, with one panelist stating. “SAP’s biggest regret was letting Oracle buy Hyperion.” With SAP pushing its HANA-based analytics platform and having investment ties to Anaplan, it is a situation worth monitoring. Oracle, meanwhile, may stem its market share drain by returning to its old playbook of buying its competition via OneStream. The wild card here is Microsoft, who was mentioned by 3 panelists as a potential player in the space, as well.