Seven Core Capabilities of IBM Planning Analytics, a Cloud-Based Budgeting & Planning Automation Solution

planning-wasc2-0316In today’s fast-paced business environment, organizations that don’t use data and analytics for planning are flying blind. In the past, data analysis has been cumbersome, time-consuming and resource-intensive (not to mention expensive), requiring analysts who not only analyzed the data, but also spent hours accumulating, entering and then rechecking the data before performing an analysis and producing reports for management. And even then, the end results would only be available in a few formats to a few key executives. By the time the reports were used to make decisions, the data was already outdated.

In recent years, cloud-based data analysis has changed much of that. Moving data to the cloud allows it to be updated and analyzed in real-time, much of it automatically. This gives access to information to departments and decision-makers across an organization, from marketing to finance to sales, who can use the most recent data to inform their decision making and choices immediately.

IBM’s Planning Analytics is a solution that offers extensive cloud-based analytics to organizations using both internal and external data, as well as integration with a variety of platforms and sophisticated software that only a company such as IBM can offer. Since the solution is cloud-based, it is truly scalable, offering organizations access to the analytics they need at a budget they can afford, while still offering sophisticated, enterprise-level analysis and reporting for large-scale operations. Here are seven core capabilities of cloud-based automated budgeting and planning solutions such as IBM’s Planning Analytics.

  1. Running in the cloud — Cloud-based systems offer many advantages over traditional desktop software, including cloud access to not just the data from across the entire organization, but also the analysis and reporting software itself.
  1. Access to internal and external data — IBM Planning Analytics can incorporate data from a variety of external sources, such as ERP and general ledger software as well as IBM Cognos TM1, Oracle Essbase, Oracle Hyperion Planning and other business intelligence sources. It integrates this external data with internal data that can be automatically collected from sources already generating data within your organization on a daily basis, such as PO and invoice entries, point-of-sale data, employee management software (new hires and departing employees), and more. This gives organizations access to more data than ever without the cumbersome process of all that data entry.
  1. Business-led design — Since the data is on the cloud, anyone who needs access can be given access. This means that the data isn’t just accessible to a few analysts and the management they turn it into — everyone across an organization can access and update data and look at budgets or generate reports as needed. A user-friendly interface allows almost anyone to look at the data, generate reports and use it to answer questions and make decisions without being as reliant on IT staff or professional developers.
  1. Solutions catalog of IBM Performance Blueprints — IBM has spent years developing sophisticated data analysis functions, many of which are now incorporated and available to users of IBM Planning Analytics. IBM’s catalog of Performance Blueprints offers pre-defined data, process and policy models for a range of functional and industry-specific planning activities, such as Capital Expenditure Planning, Store Operations P&L Planning, and many more.
  1. IBM Watson Analytics — IBM’s much discussed Watson Analytics offers a natural language interface for fast discovery, essentially allowing any regular employee to use and understand data to answer questions and help them make decisions with the most recent possible data.
  1. Microsoft Excel integration — Let’s face it: although Microsoft Excel isn’t all that easy for non-power-users, it’s still the most popular data tool around, and the interface data analysts are most accustomed to using. With IBM Planning Analytics, familiar spreadsheet tools and techniques are still available and totally integrated with the software, so you have all the functionality and formatting power of Excel, but fewer of the limitations.
  1. Production reporting — IBM Planning Analytics can take all the of data and produce a full range of reports for users in a variety of business and finance roles. It can produce budgets, scorecards linked to corporate objectives, operational dashboards, models and forecasts – you name it.

Using data can help your organization make informed choices, uncover hidden opportunities and risks and allocate resources more effectively, helping you stand out in a fast-paced and competitive environment. Analytics in the cloud makes the data analysis easier, more accessible and more useful than ever. IBM Planning Analytics offers organizations of any size access to these valuable tools. If you’re interested in finding out more or even giving IBM Planning Analytics a test drive, click here to download the full white paper.