Intelligent planning platforms to level up your business
Many industries these days are trying to get an intelligent edge to their planning, to smooth out any discrepancies, and make the planning process as efficient as possible. Whether you need to keep track of your finances, your supply chain, your workforce management or your sales performance management, there’s every chance you need some help to maximize the efficiency of your planning processes. Intelligent planning platforms are a clever and relatively new way of harnessing that maximized efficiency in planning all the major aspects of your business.
What benefits can intelligent planning platforms bring?
Any intelligent planning platform is likely to represent both a significant outlay and a degree of change within the organization that adopts it, so it’s worth getting your head around the kinds of benefits that such platforms can bring your business.
Part of the point of intelligent planning platforms is to maximize the effectiveness of all the pertinent data within any business’ systems. That means combining the likes of cloud data, edge data, legacy systems, databases and data warehouses, within a single overarching system that can take all that data and give you meaningful insights.
Those insights will typically cover most of the possible queries you could have on the state and nature of the business, its sales and finances, its stock and supply chain, to not only give you a clear picture of the business as it exists, but to let you interrogate the data in a whole variety of ways – you can produce detailed reports and analysis on any given facet of the business to guide your planning decisions, and can access all your data through a relatively straightforward dashboard, to allow insights to be generated and where necessary, shared with ease.
What does all that business intelligence get you?
Simple – it allows you to perform a range of performance management tasks with confidence, so you can steer your business immediately through whatever economic conditions come your way. That’s a benefit which businesses are finding particularly useful in the current economic and geopolitical uncertainties which rule the markets.
Having so complete a picture of your business’ data at your fingertips allows you to budget effectively, perform any financial consolidation that is shown to be necessary on the basis of clear evidence from your business, perform legitimate profitability analyses, which can help with liquidity and financial underpinning, and take control of your strategy management, all through enhanced business visibility.
What does that deliver? It delivers fact-based, data-driven decision-making capabilities, compared to businesses that steer by pure instinct alone. Particularly for tech-dependent or tech-enabled businesses, the data-driven approach inherently improves the likelihood of successfully navigating any economic environment, particularly those that have additionally challenging elements like cost-cutting, spend-reductions, and supply chain restrictions.
Using intelligent planning platforms also allows you to bring the latest technology to bear on your business decision-making and predictive analysis. As well as the standard strategic and profitability analysis capabilities that intelligent planning platforms can provide, they also unlock the power of machine learning to allow you accurate clustering, simulation, and statistical analysis on which to make technology-enhanced business decisions. That means you’re harnessing the kind of technological analysis which hasn’t been available until very recently to steer your business.
The search for AI truth with ChatGPT
While we’ll be running reviews of particular intelligent planning platforms as and when we can put them through their paces, there are a handful that have features that look to be of particular use on the basis of initial analysis.
A relatively large player in the market, with an impressive client base, Board adds elements to its functionality that easily prove their worth, like an ability to plan for digital transformation on the basis of available data.
It also makes cross-team working particularly slick and straightforward. And while most intelligent planning platforms will let you do predictive analysis, Board’s analysis seems on initial investigation to be sharper than some others in the industry.
There’s naturally a lot of “power” behind Microsoft’s offering, and it appears to deliver strongly on real-time analytics, predictive analysis, and – perhaps understandably, given Microsoft’s recent investment in OpenAI – on AI-powered analytics.
Microsoft Power BI looks particularly impressive in these analytical areas, though its dashboard is very… Microsoft, which depending on your view of how the company lays out its products will either be one of its most appealing features, or will push you to consider other options.
Call us crazy, but we’re drawn to Zoho Analytics, with its relatively subdued dashboards (subdued at least compared to Microsoft), and its surprisingly powerful analytics, also trusted by a healthy handful of big industry names.
There’s something altogether straightforward about Zoho Analytics, with its natural language capabilities and its unfussy, undramatic efficiency that make it definitely worth watching, and probably worth considering, even against some more world-conquering alternatives.
Almost the antidote to Microsoft’s bells and whistles and bright, pretty graphical dashboards, everything about the Oracle Analytics Cloud feels like it wears a bow tie and doesn’t have time for jokes. But – that being said, and while it’s never going to especially win any points for visual charm, there’s no denying the sheer data-crunching power that Oracle brings to the table.
Its augmented analytics might be worth the price of admission alone, so don’t dismiss Oracle’s offering on the grounds of its somewhat strait-laced appearance. Feel the power of its data amalgamation and the ease of its natural language queries and you might well find yourself won over.
It’s impossible to ignore Tableau, even if, compared to some newer offerings in the sector, it feels like harder work to achieve similar results. It takes some familiarization, so it’s less plug-and-play than some other intelligent planning platforms on the market, but it was plays well with others, meaning you can use it in things like Salesforce for easy dissemination of planning data to a variety of teams.
Once you know your way around it, it becomes instinctive, too, so don’t necessarily be put off by the initial learning curve. Tableau can deliver strong analytics, and its Salesforce integration gives it an ace in the hole.
Before choosing which intelligent planning platform is right for you, it’s worth at least trying a demo of a handful, and compiling a shortlist of features that are especially applicable to your business. That will narrow your choice down to an optimal platform for your needs – but intelligent planning platforms are here to stay. They offer such an incredible potential for data-driven business that they cannot be ignored.
30 November 2023
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