• Neil Doyle

Anaplan - Standing on the shoulders of giants

When our marketing manager Rebecca reminded me it was my turn to write a blog for our ever growing list of customers, I didn’t need to pause for a single second before settling on the topic.

Last week I had the immense pleasure of attending and demonstrating one of my own models at the Anaplan Hub 2013. By now I’m sure you all know I’m a bit of a geek, and this was genuinely one of the highlights of my year. I’ve personally been a big supporter of Anaplan since its UK launch, not only have I invested time and effort into promoting it, but I’ve also invested my own hard cash in trying to promote it within the UK marketplace. I can’t say it has all been smooth sailing, but it has certainly been rewarding, a major win over Adaptive Planning this summer and my current project with Energy Quote JHA are amongst others, highlights for me.

The Hub itself was the usual fanfare you would expect at a flagship event like this. An extremely polished and impressive performance from CEO Frederic Laluyaux, satisfied customers everywhere you look (Aviva, HP, Diageo to name just a few) and a fantastic preview of what’s to come in the next few months. A cringe-worthy role play aside, which I can forgive as a necessary evil, this was a superbly organised and executed event in an attractive venue – the Film Museum in Covent Garden. A lot of credit must go to Jayne Goodman and her team for a fantastic event.

But for me, everything was just a side show to the main event. Michael Gould. The giant on whose shoulders we all stand. We have built Bedford and our careers on the shoulders of Michael Gould. You may laugh, and think I’m going a little bit bonkers – but every word of it is true. My first introduction to the world of EPM was to Cognos EP, one of Michaels early projects, by the tenacious Jason McCrory at Deloitte. Within 18 months I was a Director of Bedford and our first two clients were major EP customers. A few years later we got involved with Anaplan and have experienced unprecedented growth ever since.

I explained to my colleagues in Bedford last week that they should savour his presentations, not because of their polished nature or indeed his presentation style, but because of their sheer achievement. Michael is a true innovator. Some might say a genius. Any man who locks himself away in a barn for four years (not sure if that is actually true but it certainly sounds good!) to create a product that will revolutionise the EPM market deserves the title of genius. According to the marketing slogans, Anaplan is disrupting the EPM market place. Michael Gould is not disrupting the EPM market – he is reinventing it.

Anaplan is a whole new ball game, immediate, connected, powerful. There are very few people in the world who are really true innovators. Michael has looked at the market place, looked at the improvements in technology and has reinvented the market. He’s the Steve Jobs, the Mark Zuckerburg, of his industry. I implemented Anaplan in ten days at one of the UK’s largest government bodies. I implemented it without a single consultancy day charged at Norland Managed Services. I’ve had employees demonstrating it back to their line managers within hours during sales evaluations. I have never worked with a product like it, and as much as I love the IBM products Anaplan is a whole different world.

I was lucky enough to grab a few minutes with Michael as the dust settled after the event, and posed a few questions of my own. How was he going to keep up with the changes in technology? How would he keep the same fast pace of development going as the company grows? Would he be able to maintain the close link between users and developers as the community grows? To be fair if I asked Michael for the square root of pi, I’d be fairly confident I’d get the answer. No bluff, no sales spin, no telling you what you want to hear. Just the answer – plain and simple.

A member of the audience asked a fantastic question during one of the Q&A sessions around where Michael wanted the toolset to go in the next ten years. As the answer fell on the ears of the two hundred and forty disciples assembled, a cold shudder was collectively felt by the CEO’s of all the major BI vendors. Time to take the golden handshake and hit the Bahamas I’m afraid, there’s a giant on his way.

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