• Cathal Doyle

Just a simple, powerful product.

Since its commercial launch in 2011, Anaplan has achieved unicorn status with a $1 billion valuation, has scaled its customer base to 600+, has expanded its offices into 15+ countries, has achieved 100% year on year growth, has 100+ partners globally and has developed over 200+ applications for window browsing in its App Hub from Finance use cases to HR, SPM, S&OP, Supply Chain and on and on. It’s an overused expression, but that indeed is Hypergrowth. However most notably it would seem in a climate where tech companies are now commonly focusing on business fundamentals above all else, Anaplan has achieved cash flow break even for the first time this quarter way ahead of projections into 2017.

Amidst the growth, it now seems the commentators are catching on, with Gartner, Forrester, Forbes & Fast Company lapping recent plaudits on the software company (even the Samurai of Silicon Valley made reference to the competition during his keynote earlier this Quarter, although plaudit is probably not the right word) yet I’m left wondering, what took them so long? Although we’ve seen obvious advancements in the technology in recent times around user interface, platform integration, dashboarding, security, etc the core engine and fundamentals of the tool have been unwavering since day one. At Bedford, it was love at first site. It was a pretty basic UI at that time but what struck me was the hybrid of simplicity vs. the sheer power of the modelling engine. Remember, this was at a time when most of my days were spent head-down in legacy tools trying to forensically stitch simple statements together so I could selfishly see a genuine opportunity to make my life easier and make clients truly happy.

It’s the simple things;

  • A single unified platform. No GTP’ing, no publishing, no sync’ing…….no potential for human error.

  • Scalability. Essentially limitless cell count.

  • Ease of a spreadsheet. ‘IF’, ‘LOOKUP’, ‘SUM’, ‘PROFILE’ statements, not to speak of the more complex functions ‘IRR’, ‘ERLANG’, etc. Modelling that would have taken hours of preparation are now a momentary open bracket, close bracket.

  • Connectivity of the cloud. No more VPN, no more VM Images, no more installation manuals. A wifi connection and you’re away.

I indicated that Anaplan ‘makes my life easier’ and although I believe that is the nicest compliment I can pay the product and development team; I fear it may over simplify the concept. Whilst the toolset aids us in a smooth and attainable delivery, it also puts pressure back on our consultancy and solution expertise. As I humble from an education in the architectural field, I liken it to an architect putting pencil to paper on a design for the first time. It’s a blank sheet of paper and a list of requirements, the output of which will be the result of both his/her creativity and experience. Historically, due to legacy restrictions we would have looked at those technology limitations vs. the list of requirements, and the design would simply have been a by-product of the two. Now we have a technology that is essentially limitless in terms of modelling power and the pressure is back on us to deliver on a robust and qualified design. And in some cases, just because we can doesn’t mean we should. It’s the pencil and the blank sheet of paper and if you ask me, what better place to be!!!

These simple principals have been the backbone of the software since inauguration and a true credit to Michael Gould and the product team’s early vision. I read a fascinating Q&A with Grant Halloran (CMO @Anaplan), in which he refers to a personal experience early in his career when he over-engineered an initial product and discovered that the foundation of the business was wrong. He built a Rolls Royce version of a product instead of starting out with a Buick. Great analogy, and for sure Anaplan have got it the right way round. “Increment, experiment, learn from customers”.

Although I will miss outgoing CEO Fred Laluyaux at this years event, remembering the humble beginnings with 50+ attendees in the Science Museum in Covent Garden at HUB 13, as Gold Sponsors of this year’s event again I’m really enthusiastic to join an estimated 800+ to enjoy Simon Tucker (CCO), James Budge (CFO), Paul Melchiorre (CRO) & Grant Halloran (CMO) host this year’s HUB 16 alongside some amazing logos, Diageo, RSA, ASDA, AXA and many more. Watch out for our very own Managing Director Neil Doyle who will be sneaking on stage too alongside some great names. If you haven’t registered yet, get on it – BEDFORDHUB16.

PS – listen out for a significant announcement pre HUB 16 from our MD Neil on our strategic direction here at Bedford. Exciting!