Over last few years FSN have had the privilege of interviewing the founders of some of the most vibrant, innovative and rapidly growing software houses in the business. These are the ones attracting tens of millions of venture capital funding, that are doubling their staff rosters, that are reaching out globally and are disrupting the status quo. And behind each of these phenomenal success stories is a second time around entrepreneur – somebody (sometimes more than one) that won their fame and fortune the first time around but are driven to do even better this time.
These are the software houses that are leveraging modern digital technologies (cloud, mobile, social and analytics) and advances in technology more broadly to re-invent how we do our work, in areas as diverse as budgeting, planning, forecasting and financial reporting. I’m thinking about the likes of Guy Haddleton and Michael Gould of Anaplan, Tom Shea of OneStream Software and Christian Gheorghe of Tidemark.
Adaytum was arguably the most successful budgeting and planning tool before it was sold to Cognos in 2003 for $160 million in cash. And that could have been the end of the story had it not been for Guy Haddleton’s desire to start all over again with his CTO Michael Gould, financial backers eager to re-invest and a marketplace yearning for something, simpler to build and maintain, that does a better job than the big BI suites and yet is less expensive and more accessible.
“We threw out all of the old ideas and Michael locked himself away in a cold Yorkshire farm for a year to think about a new paradigm for this market. We wanted to do something radically different that would leverage multi-core processing, that would handle truly massive volumes, that utilized in-memory storage for near instantaneous response and could leverage a next generation calculation engine for changes in the moment,” says Haddleton.
And it was this step-change in capability that attracted Fred Laluyaux as Anaplan’s CEO, leaving the relative comfort of SAP around two years ago to lead the next phase of innovation as Haddleton handed over the reins. And under Laluyaux’s leadership the innovation keeps coming with the launch this year of the Anaplan App Hub, a community for all Anaplanners to build, share, and deploy planning apps.
Tom Shea of OneStream came to the market with a similar strength of purpose and with the likes of Oracle Hyperion and SAP firmly in the crosshairs of his sights. “You will find that other software systems marketed as ‘unified’ CPM systems are in fact multiple products or applications requiring additional maintenance points for users. These systems have known symptoms: complex software installations and integration, data quality problems, high use of customer support, and a need to continually add internal resources or hire external consulting. It’s an unsustainable proposition and why global enterprise are moving away from tier one vendors to CPM offerings like ours, designed from day one as a completely unified environment.”
And Tom should know. Before co-founding OneStream he was a veteran of the financial reporting software industry and developed Financial Data Quality Management (FDQM) for Hyperion products. His co-founder at OneStream Bob Powers, invented, architected, implemented, and led the development organization for Hyperion HFM.
Under their watchful eye, OneStream’s approach to complex consolidations at the high end of the market has been transformative. Among the many innovations they have introduced has been “Extensible Dimensionality” which has eliminated the historic tension between the corporate centre and reporting units by removing the need to build and maintain separate applications to house additional solutions or specific business unit reporting requirements.
“The corporate centre and the local reporting entities can both have ‘their cake and eat it’ because the two sets of requirements can coexist in the same application environment,” says Shea.
Christian Gheorghe, Founder and CEO of Tidemark has always sought to maximize the value to users from technology innovation. His wide-ranging entrepreneurial experience in the design, architecture, development, and deployment of enterprise performance management software includes OutlookSoft before it was acquired by BusinessObjects – now an SAP business.
Tidemark has recently announced new capabilities aimed at bridging the gap between finance and operations. Its new release includes the introduction of Predictive Business Analytics features, specifically designed for the era of what Gheorghe calls “Big Data Finance” and breaking away from legacy technologies and cube-like modelling. Like Anaplan and OneStream, TideMark is focussed on delivering very large business models, utilizing ‘in-memory’ computing and other performance enhancing technologies.
So the message seems to be that if you are looking for innovation in performance management turn your gaze to the companies which have second time around entrepreneurs behind them. They’ve learnt what works and what doesn’t directly at the sharp-end. That knowledge could save you a lot of time, effort and money.