A lot has changed since we last published the BI, CPM, and budgeting survey in 2015 now shortened to BI/CPM as CPM includes budgeting. Then the big trends were big data, mobility, cloud computing and in-memory processing. Although those technologies are still very much with us, the biggest trends today are AI (Artificial Intelligence) / Machine Learning, self-service and visualization.
Just another reminder about what is meant by BI and CPM:
Business intelligence (BI) is defined as transforming data into information to make decisions. It might include online analytical processing (OLAP), dashboards, scorecards, visualization (graphical representation), ad hoc query, a report writer and predictive modeling.
Corporate performance management (CPM) includes consolidation, budgeting and forecasting, financial reporting, business intelligence and strategy management. CPM often includes reporting tools that would overlap with BI. As CPM incorporates business intelligence and budgeting, we are going to use CPM throughout this article to represent all the systems, even though certain vendors don’t include all CPM functionality.
Our survey includes hundreds of questions about target customers, cost and features. The results are available in excel format by clicking here. If you want to see how well the different systems fit your requirements, you can also complete an online survey, then view the 10 best systems for your needs here. As with all our surveys, we were unable to validate the information supplied to us by the vendors. However, we don’t think there will be that many intentional mistakes, partly because the vendors will lose credibility if they are caught making false claims.
AI is hyped that it can simulate what can be done by a human. This is still science fiction and will only be found in shows such as Star Trek. But AI can predict things based on a ton of data. One example is autonomous driving whereby vehicles are equipped with sensors that are linked to A1 to determine what to do based on what worked before under the same conditions. Millions of driving conditions would need to be used for AI to come up with the optimal response for anything detected by the sensors. Machine learning recalls the responses that worked well in the past and uses them to predict the optimal response based on all the data from the sensors.
We recently spoke with Derek Nogiec, CPA CMA, who is Tableau Software’s Managing Director for Canada. His perspective was that the big change in reporting and analytics today is empowering business people to make sense of lots of raw data in any format. In the past, programmers needed to create what is called a meta-data model, e.g. cube, that could then be examined/analyzed. Now you can examine the raw data to uncover the insights in a visual way and present it without help from IT. Another trend is the gradual acceptance of the cloud, which was resisted mostly because of cyber security concerns. Today systems give you the choice of where to store the data which could be on premise, in a public cloud (sharing the same computer) or a private cloud (only used by 1 organization). Security conscious organizations can keep the most sensitive data on premise or in their own private cloud.
We also recently spoke with Geoffrey Ng, who is the SVP, Product & Technology for Prophix Software about trends. One big trend is that CPM is leveraging Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI) to improve forecasting. People can’t detect correlations used for prediction as well as AI when faced with lots of data to analyze. Not only that, AI will improve the prediction as actual performance is analyzed. In the past, forecasting might be done with a lot of brute force once or twice a year. Now it can be done in days. The other big thing is to make it easier. You don’t need to be an Excel guru and will be able to ask the questions using everyday natural language to find the answers or predicted outcomes. Finally, the cloud supports the new technology by providing as much computing power as needed.