Post pandemic cloud data platforms to play a significant role in financial services

October 21, 2020

Financial services businesses are accelerating the development of digital transformation initiatives and migrating towards the cloud. With rising demands from customers and an increase in stricter compliance and regulatory standards, the financial services industry will only benefit more but utilising the potential of cloud data platforms.

The businesses that have taken the steps towards implementing cloud strategies have seen major improvements in efficiency, cost reductions and a decrease in downtime. The recent disruptions and implications of large-scale lockdown measures related to the pandemic have been alleviated by the mobility, security and scalability of cloud data platforms. While we are yet to truly understand the economic impacts of Covid-19, businesses are aware of the need to increase digital transformation strategies and prepare their organisation for other disruptive times in the future. 

According to reports by the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), the cloud industry is expected to exceed $7 billion by 2022. Being one of the initial industries to adopt the technology, businesses within finance have been reaping the benefits associated with cloud migration. The latest report from NASSCOM explains that the financial industry has the potential to offer real-time, high volume and high-performance transaction within a range of channels by adopting cloud.  The added benefit of migrating to the cloud for the financial industry relates to customer security. Migrating to a secure cloud data platform enables smoother and efficient monitoring of vital data channels and allows for simultaneous analysis.

From online transactions to insurance claims, financial services generate considerable volumes of data. The information that can be collected from this data can enhance efficiency, security and improve the overall customer experience.

There are several key ways financial services organisations can benefit from a cloud data platform:

Improved Customer Experience

Customers today are actively seeking a unique and personalised customer experience. For many, personalisation is a critical factor in determining whether the business relationship will continue. With access to significant data, banks and financial services businesses have the opportunity to create this desired personal experience. For this to be a success, complete visibility into customer interactions in real-time is vital. With the support of cloud platforms, businesses can gather a range of data in a single secure system. Cloud platforms can also measure various sources of structured and unstructured data collected on CRM systems, customer transactions and IoT. 

Generate New Revenue Streams

Cloud data platforms provide a direct and secure way of sharing data without complicating the process or adding further cost or risk concerns as associated with legacy data systems. An individual data product to data consumers can generate new revenue streams. Financial services businesses that gather stock market data is a good example of this in action. By using cloud data platforms, financial data vendors can develop data projects that can then be sold to hedge funds.

Manage potential fraud and risk

Financial services businesses are under regular attacks from cyber threats and other cases of fraud. With a significant cost attached, financial businesses need to ensure they are well prepared. Cloud data platforms gather and assess data and can act as the initial defence line against potential cyber-attacks. Financial organisations can effectively store data and manage cybersecurity, anti-fraud and other data sources. With the added use of analytics, financial services organisations can apply detection rules and detailed visualisations to detect any anomalies with transactions. The combination of high volume data storage with detailed financial analytics can enable rapid risk detection. The result is a cost-effective higher level of data security.

A cloud data platform offers the necessary steps for a business to enable a business to deliver agility and growth. For financial services businesses looking to create a unique, personalised customer experience, increase potential profits and enhance their security measures, implementing the most effective data infrastructure is the vital step to take.

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Deloitte Ascend announced at Oracle OpenWorld in California

September 17, 2019

The new platform will support businesses in developing their digital systems beyond cloud migration to generate a simplistic set of business activities driven by digital transformation.

Deloitte confirmed the release of Deloitte Ascend at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, explaining the product to be a ‘pre-configured digital accelerator’ developed on their cloud platform and focused on supporting business innovation, accelerating overall performance and creating enterprise digital transformation.

The Deloitte Ascend product is focused for clients seeking to migrate from on-site systems towards Oracle Cloud Applications. According to Deloitte, the system can be applied at any stage of the digital journey. Deloitte Ascend supports clients with the following:-

-Streamlining business activities by improving the overall delivery of Clean Core supported by Oracle Cloud. 

-Automating activities like data migration, configuration, testing and coding migrations.

-Simplifying essential business activities that span across multiple industries and at the same time, enhance efficiencies with a range of digital activities and utilising cases created by Oracle Cloud and other digital systems.

Mark Walsh, Principal and Enterprise Performance Portfolio Leader at Deloitte Consulting highlights that in our connected world today, it isn’t enough for businesses to just migrate to a cloud system. Walsh explains that Deloitte Ascend combines leading industry processes and a number of digitally created insights with their award-winning Oracle Cloud platform, enabling clients to deliver innovative levels of performance for their business.

At the very heart of Deloitte Ascend is a digital transformative framework and a system with analytical focus combined with a number of digital project assets. The framework provides supports businesses with measuring their overall digital capabilities, to draw out their digital transformation path and to develop a platform that enables them to utilise their competitive advantage over other businesses.

The Ascend platform also provides a number of interactive Oracle Digital Experience Labs which provide a detailed experience, using Oracle Cloud and digital technologies to perform vital business processes via real-time configuration and data. The labs aim to support the digital goals of clients by displaying how to reach individual process can be streamlined and made simpler with digital technology.

Dave Donatelli, the executive VP of Cloud Business Group at Oracle emphasises that Deloitte has a proven track record of supporting businesses with driving value by using Oracle Cloud Applications. Donatelli believes Deloitte Ascend will support the planning and promotion of the digital transformation process, enabling customers to take advantage of everything the Oracle Cloud platform provides.

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Microsoft and Oracle launch cloud collaboration in London

September 3, 2019

Businesses across the UK will soon be able to utilise a significant boost in cloud computing as Oracle and Microsoft confirmed they would launch multi-cloud capacity services to London.

Leading technology players have announced that customers in London will be able to interconnect Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for the first time as they plan to increase multi-cloud services worldwide. Microsoft and Oracle confirmed their multicloud partnership just a few months ago after a number of customers were seeking to work within both platforms.

Oracle recently stated that London was one of the highest and active Oracle Cloud regions and explained that their latest announcement would enable customers in the London area to access more services than previously offered.

The London announcement represents the first expansion outside of the US for the Microsoft-Oracle collaboration. Interconnected cloud regions will enable conditions for less latency, resulting in higher data transfer levels and improved application interaction speeds within the cloud.

Oracle confirmed that the partnership would enable a wider range of customers across London to launch innovative new solutions for their business systems. Oracle highlighted that the service will provide customers with a diverse range of new services in Azure, which can be used within the cloud.

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Developing intelligent finance systems for the future

August 28, 2019

Traditional banks today are being bombarded by a combination of innovative technology, rising customer demands, emerging competitors and new regulations.

The question is whether banks are ready and willing to invest in enhancing their service offerings, utilising the new technology options available and at the same time, continuing to maintain a secure system for their customers?

Banks are being forced to radically transform their business models, alter products and services in order to maintain momentum with the ever-changing technology and innovation on offer. Whilst many studies have suggested that customer behaviour is the primary driver for change, a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit states that the key driver for transformation is the emergence of new technologies, in particular, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and other systems related to data and analytics. The report suggests that this influence of new technologies is only going to get bigger over the next few years.

In a survey commissioned to major financial institutions, clearly, the most vulnerable factor to competition was payments, followed closely by savings and deposit services. Short term competitor threats were highlighted as large technology businesses, payment providers and peer-to-peer lenders. Financial institutions also stated that they believe strategic priorities to continue to change over the coming years. Banks expect expansion in key areas of digital marketing, digital channel migration and cutting costs.

The rise of open banking

From the customer side, people are looking for simpler ways to handle money and make their daily lives easier. Many banks are concerned about the challenges faced with open banking services, especially in regards to collecting and sharing data with third parties and the associated risks of this.

Banks need to determine what path they wish to take in the future, whether this is providing a multi-service offering of financial and non-financial products or looking to specialise in a specific area of the banking community. What is quite clear, is that the traditional banking system is not a feasible pathway for a sustainable future.

Max Chuard, the chief executive officer at Tenemos believes that five years from now, intelligent banking will involve a bank that utilises the cloud, AI and other innovative technologies. Banks will be able to offer a wider range of new services to their customers. Historically, conventional banks have tended to avoid the risk of changing systems but the need to continue innovating is clearly a path that needs to be taken.

In terms of investment in digital strategies, a large focus continues to remain on cybercrime. Cloud technology, however, is becoming an increasing area of interest, followed closely by the importance of data and advanced analytics.

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Gartner release 2019 Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions

August 21, 2019

Leading global analyst provider Gartner has recently confirmed the release of it’s latest Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions.

Analytics remains a vital element of new software technology, particularly within the last year. Gartner believes that automation will be the main driver for new product purchases over the next year within business intelligence and analytics, including data science and embedded BI. Gartner has also forecast that nearly half of all analytic queries to be performed via search, automation, voice or natural language.

The rise of natural language and conversation analytics will generate a new wave of technology users within the BI and Analytical arena. It is due to this uptake that Gartner believes we will experience a rise of nearly 15% of these tools in enterprises, with significant growth of data and analytics users within businesses. Analysts at Gartner also believe that this rate of growth will stimulate other innovative businesses to modify their business models.

The latest Gartner report outlines of the development of ‘modern’ analytics and business intelligence tools over the last few years. Traditional platforms are being transformed by the development of augmented analytics and machine learning, as well as the rise of visual-based data system providers. Gartner states that those leading the natural language processing arena are more likely to be capable of setting a higher pricing level for their products compared to their competitors.

In their latest Magic Quadrant, Gartner summarises the overall strengths and weaknesses of over 20 key providers, regarded as the most significant within their market. Gartner provides a graphical representation of vendor performance based on their overall ability to execute and their ability to reach their overall vision. The graph is split into four quadrants: nice players, challengers, visionaries, and leaders. 

Based on last year, Microsoft and Tableau were regarded as market leaders in this space. This year, Gartner has placed Microsoft in a more commanding lead, improving its position on the ‘ability to execute’ section of the Gartner graph. Microsoft provides excellent functions, especially for its price, enabling users to perform detailed analysis relatively easily. Gartner believes that Microsoft will remain a leader for some years to come. Tableau, however, has recently announced new natural language processing and automated data management services which strengthen its portfolio further.

Qlik maintained its leadership status based on Gartner’s definition of consisting of a strong product roadmap and its global reach compared to other competitors. Other mentioned businesses include ThoughSpot, a business that is leading the augmented analytics industry. The business raised nearly $150 million in new venture capital and released ThoughtSpot5 last year, containing its innovative voice-driven analytics systems referred to as SearchIQ.

In terms of challenges, Gartner highlight Microstrategy as a key business. The company has invested heavily in augmented analytic services and has received high customer scores based on its range of product capabilities. The system also enables detailed analysis of large data sets and recently launched a new offering which it describes as a ‘new class of enterprise intelligence’, known as HyperIntelligence.

WIthin the Visionaries section, Gartner highlight TIBCO Software, Sisense, and Salesforce as nearly equal leaders and all having the potential to be the leader in 2020. Gartner suggests that TIBCO showed the most improvement in the last year due to a number of recent acquisitions which have enabled them to expand their offering in data science and management. The business also improved its embedded analytics product and launched a new AI analytical tool known as Spotfire X. Sisense raises dits funding to $200 million showing its interest in acquiring enterprise-level customers. The business has emphasized its focus on machine learning and launched a new Data Cognition Engine that can understand large data volumes and can produce nearly instant analytical responses.

Within the Niche Players, this year are more traditional BI providers such as Oracle, IBM, and Board International, as well as more specialist embedded analytical providers like Logi Analytics and GoodData. One business, in particular, Looker, gained the highest increase within this section, ending the year with a growth funding round valued at $100 million. The business also released new integrations for data science workflows and new developer tools in Looker 6, as well as integration with Google BigQuery.



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Transforming finance processes through platform integration

August 6, 2019

Implementing digital technology can create a number of challenges to financial operations. Investment business The Carlyle Group recently launched a CPM platform to support its business objectives.

With the continued rise of digital technology, financial businesses and utilizing innovative systems to transform people and processes to enhance business performance through an improved and more flexible service. Through the implementation of new technology, businesses are creating more time to focus on analysis and improving their overall strategic decision-making process.

A few years ago, investment company Carlyle Group started exploring new methods to support digital technology within its financial and enterprise systems that provided a simplistic and easier option to their existing services. At this time, the group utilized three separate systems for planning, budgeting, and forecasting but intended to launch one system that could integrate all of these services into one platform. Carlyle Groups financial planning and analysis group used SAP Business Objects Planning, a traditional tool that no longer provided options to support annual budgeting, quarterly forecasting, and long term plans. Carlyle Group was focusing a lot of time and effort on consolidating and handling information due to technical limitations faced with their systems in place. The Group highlighted that its existing Hyperion Financial Management system required significant customization to meet business needs. The business also relied on a custom HR budgeting and forecasting service that met the needs of a complex investment business but was a single-user system and required added support with excel-based data integrations.

To progress further into the digital era, Carlyle Group knew they would need to implement a more modern, flexible platform, capable of scaling to meet its existing and future business needs. Carlyle explored a range of tools to determine which one suited the company from an FP&A perspective. In the end, the business picked OneStream Software LLC integrated CPM platform.

OneStream operated in the cloud or on-premise and allows businesses to focus on reporting, budgeting and forecasting, all within one integrated system. The CPM platform can tackle the requirements of most businesses as well as the more complex reporting needs of other companies and specific groups.

Financial benefits of the move Carlyle Group selected OneStream for its budgeting, planning and forecasting services but the platform also supported their consolidation and reporting processes, combining this area into one platform. Aside from the productivity benefits, the business also experienced an improvement in their IT infrastructure, making life much easier for both users and system managers. The new platform means a reduction in data movement between systems, making it easier to manage and implement periodic upgrades. So instead of launching a series of upgrades to multiple systems that can take some time, the group can upgrade one application in a matter of hours. OneStream has met all the requirements of Carlyle Group. Through the delivery of a single platform, all data is gathered in one place, making processes simpler and quicker.

The business now has much more access to information and has greatly reduced manual, time-consuming data tasks. Carlyle Group has also highlighted a number of other notable benefits, such a reduction in consolidation times by over 50%, despite a massive surge in data generated. Standard processes that previously took up to a week to deliver, such as expense budget updates, can now be implemented in the same day, in literally a few minutes. Since implementing the new system, the group has expanded their use of the OneStream platform by developing point planning solutions for specific expense areas, generating scenario models to support business strategy and review discussions.

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How automation is transforming finance activities

July 30, 2019

Technology is rapidly changing how organizations do business. Finance teams, in particular, are being transformed from focusing on traditional paperwork activities to effectively automating processes such as invoicing, workflow and data analytics. Technology has created an efficient automated strategy, enabling finance teams to harness the true potential of their workforce and strengthen their contribution towards their business.

At first, technology was perceived as a potential threat to employment and job availability. In reality, as technology and the digital era has emerged even further, technology has proven to provide wider opportunities and empowered businesses, accelerating overall company development. Streamlining basic and tedious activities with automated software means the lengthy tasks of data entry and spreadsheet management, which commonly result in errors, are being completed in a matter of minutes.

This is a significant change for finance professionals, allowing CFOs and other financial members to have more influence over their entire businesses. Instead of spending time on paperwork, finance employees are capable of moving into a more strategic position, exploring new opportunities and creating real value for their company. Automation has also provided more control and visibility of data and other records for finance professionals.

The development of innovative analytical models allows finance teams to carefully measure and manage overall performance, as well as identify trends or potential errors that previously would have been overlooked. All of these factors create added value, supporting their business in making complex decisions and generating more accountability within the entire business. According to the Finance 2020 report by Accenture, Finance is now creating things it could never do before due to progression in digital technology. Finance has transformed from a traditional spreadsheet-focused accounting and reporting hub, into a sophisticated predictive analytical system providing real value for a business. It comes as no real surprise that automation technology is expected to expand further within finance over the coming years. A 2016 EY survey of finance professionals suggested that 65% believed automating processes would become a significant factor for future financial organizations.

IT Pro Portal has created several steps they believe finance leaders should be considering to develop an automation strategy and reshape their role within their entire business.

Defining your overall proposition, what you want your team to deliver and how you intend to add value to the business. How do these changes impact your team’s function and existing work?

Defining your team and its capabilities – What can be changed to deliver business value and what can you transform through automation.
Considering your team and overall structure – where should automation technology be applied to reduce certain individual tasks, enabling additional time for people to develop new skills.

Developing your automation plan – work with your team and the business to confirm what processes need to be automated to meet your goal. Identify areas where automation will reduce errors, significantly free up time for employees and add value elsewhere, as well as generate higher levels of data analysis.

Create a testing framework – testing automation plays a crucial part in the success and failure of an automation project. Within the testing stage, all processes, technology, and roles should be considered, as well as determining the best time to deliver the project and who will be responsible for implementing and measuring the results.

Testing your automation environment – working alongside your IT team to test software, manage any potential errors before implementing anything live.

Enabling continuous improvement – finance leaders need to ensure there are a continuous learning and improvement process within the business.

Receiving feedback from business members and another stakeholder within the automation process and refining the strategy as necessary.

Moving towards automation means CFOs can harness the true potential of their position and ensure they provide a lead within business activities and ensure their organization remains active and competitive within this progressive market.

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Case Study: How Hindalco improved financial processes with Oracle EPM Cloud

July 24, 2019

Hindalco recently automated its financial systems by implementing cloud software, saving time and effort with manual tasks and at the same time, improving both results and security.

Emerging regulatory controls and a progressively competitive business landscape are placing further pressures on financial leaders. Added into the mix is the growth of innovative digital technologies, greatly influencing the rate of development within the market. Being capable of reducing time spend on financial closing with compliance and regulations being met is a significant challenge and a factor that can influence the reputation of a business.

Manufacturing business Hindalco Industries is a fine example of how a business has utilized Oracle cloud to meet these rising challenges. Handling multiple streams of data, combined with completing financial reports in real-time proved very challenging for the business. Integrating multiple reports into a singular version under relatively tight deadlines became a difficult process to manage for Hindalco and is a common issue for other businesses within multiple industries. For Hindalco, many tasks were depending on specific employees, required manual intervention to eliminate any potential errors and required further monitoring and checks from other members of the business.
Hindalco was looking for a solution that would streamline their financial management process and regulatory reports, explains Sunita Menon, Head of Solution Delivery at the business. Financial reporting continues to be one of the most complex and expensive processes. End-to-end reporting involves a number of complicated stages which all have the potential to disrupt the overall flow of the process. Menon explains that Hindalco was looking for a solution that demonstrated a proven case for the business. Oracle EPM Cloud solution was selected as it offered the services that enabled Hindalco to combine finance and IT services together.

The introduction of the new solution began with identifying the underlying problem, selecting the right technology and determining an implementation partner and delivering the solution to meet business expectations. Menon explains that this process involved a combination of design thinking, stakeholder management, training, validation checks, user acceptance testing and the final delivery of the tested product. Data was collected from over 20 locations and was inputted into Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) and later combined with the cloud solution.

The benefits of the move to Oracle

The new solution enables simultaneous updates from a select number of points at any time. Users are able to share report segments with the option of implementing review and responsibility settings. The system also includes a number of validation to monitor financial data and any potential errors.

Menon explains that the business now has the ability to assess and deliver multiple versions within a single link to source data. Menon highlights the improvements through greater accuracy, explaining that any opportunity to free up the time of professionals will result in higher levels of accuracy. The business has improved its use of resources and additional time can be spent specifically on analysis, rather than the time-consuming process of collecting data

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Revolutionising the digital workplace for the future

July 17, 2019

In today’s business world there are a number of emerging trends that are impacting and influencing the digital workplace. The rise of AI and machine learning is, for many, a decisive factor that has raised engagement and empowered people. New insights enable businesses to utilise tools and applications to deliver their jobs. By following how people use these systems, machine learning can create learning pathways to the individual to enhance their use of a service, increasing efficiency and productivity levels further.

The focus on engagement and empowerment and the rise of user adoption of other platforms are transforming the way businesses work with technology partners. Users are now expecting suppliers to have adoption management specialists and have a specific management methodology to implement new technologies within the workplace. The level of adoption and user satisfaction is becoming a specific factor to measure overall performance. Applying this process can empower employees to generate better outcomes.

The rise of innovative and intelligent technology

Technology today is capable of gathering information from users and implementing changes to their functionality to enhance user experience and improve business activities. Many businesses are applying machine learning processes to analyse business activities and monitor any changes or potential disruption to their overall business. Performance. Such techniques are enhancing efficiency, saving money and improving overall business performance levels.

A streamlined, more simplistic service

In order for certain application to integrate with other systems that employees commonly use today, there is a growing trend of a more simplistic user interface emerging. Recent innovations have enabled a certain task to become simpler by using a streamlined and user-friendly system. Despite this ‘simplistic’ shift in devices, many experts highlight that applications are still continuing to become more intelligent.

A smarter digital workplace

May clients are keen to explore methods of enhancing their digital workplace strategy and design a brand that really makes them stand out from others. The emergence of smart spaces, that focus on combining environments with people and processes to generate higher levels of efficiency and productivity.

The business of the future is looking at taking a more holistic approach, combining HR, Finance, IT and other business areas together to deliver a collaborative strategy that promotes culture, enhances inclusion and is more cost-efficient. Many clients have adopted a smart space strategy resulting in massive energy saving costs by measuring multiple sources of data on heating, cooling, weather and other factors.

Machine learning and analytics can play a critical part in optimising space utilisation. Due to recent accounting regulation changes, space expenses for a business are clearly visible on balance sheets. This means many businesses are looking for ways to reduce their overall office space footprint whilst continuing to maintain high levels of employee satisfaction.

Some businesses are utilising data from other relevant room-booking applications, combined with Wi-Fi and sensor information to determine where people are and how they are working together. Other businesses are designing physical collaborative areas as an alternative option to underused video-conferencing services and are experiencing an increase in engagement and a reduction in costs.

Data authenticity is clearly on the main agenda

Data has become an essential tool for businesses to achieve their underlying goals. This growing reliance on data, however, has generated concerns with the use of unverified data sources. Research by Accenture suggested that nearly 80% of business executives believe that companies are implementing their most critical systems and strategies based on data, yet many have not invested in the systems to verify the authenticity of the data. If analytical professionals avoid the verification of data their decisions could potentially be detrimental to the business. For those that are implementing verification, strategies rely on machine learning to verify data from various applications, smart space and employee engagement, enabling accurate assessments and the ability to continuously improve their business processes.

Some leading businesses are utilising machine learning to predict financial results. These companies have confidence in ML to generate a more accurate prediction of what their figures will be in the future. Data verification is a growing trend and represents another part of the bigger movement towards collaborating to create solutions.
Analysts believe that throughout this year, businesses will be more proactive to engage and empower their employees. IT teams will likely increase their efforts to communicate with employees to create a better understanding of how technology can really empower their everyday lives. AI and Machine Learning will play a pivotal role in this new trend of engaging and empowering people.

Through further insights, IT can display the tools and applications available to employees and display everything that can be done to perform their jobs to their best ability. Through a better understanding of how people use applications, machine learning can create learning pathways to each individual to enhance the adoption of specific services, increasing both efficiency and productivity.

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Leading CEOs suggest Workday acquired Adaptive Insights for one main reason – compatibility

February 12, 2019

Adaptive Insights had plans to go public, but this entire process was transformed for one particular reason according to CEO Aneel Bhusri of Workday and Tom Bogan, CEO of Adaptive Insights.

Adaptive Insight and Workday Deal

Adaptive Insights had solid plans to go public, working its way around the nation promoting its public offering plans. This, however, was not to be, as leading cloud business Workday acquired the business for a sum of $1.5 billion resulting in Adaptive Insights becoming a subsidiary of Workday. Tom Bogan, CEO of Adaptive Insights and CEO, co-founder and close friend of workday Aneel Bhusri, both explained to media that the takeover really came down to one thing which was compatibility.

Bogan explains that one vital element was the close alignment of cultures between the two businesses. In a recent interview with both CEO’s, they explained their similar approach to customers and employees meant there was a lot of trust between both businesses, enabling a deal to be secured in a relatively short time frame.

Adaptive Insights is focused on planning in cloud based systems, collaboration and analytics. The acquisition provides an additional $5 billion to Workday’s potential opportunities, including in excess of 4,000 customers and a wide portfolio of other offerings.

Bhusri explains that they had a vision for enterprise applications that follow a process of commencing with planning, moving to execution and finishing with analysis. This is essentially how businesses operate, creating a plan, executing against this plan and measuring the results. Bhusri explains that they had tried to create their own planning system but had realised they were behind other businesses like Adaptive and wanted to be involved in that market.

This resulting demand led the quick secured deal and enabled Workday to finalise its biggest ever acquisition and become the first business that can deliver planning, execution and analysis within one platform.

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