When the pandemic struck global economies early this year, CFOs found themselves rapidly reshuffling their business priorities. Not surprisingly, revenue projection, cost containment, workforce planning, and cash and liquidity management all suddenly emerged as primary concerns for more than half of 225 finance leaders surveyed between March and May 2020.
To keep pace with this changing world, CFOs sought agility. And in today’s enterprise, agility takes root in the planning processes that drive the business—processes that are orchestrated by finance.
Planning has become mission critical because business environments are increasingly volatile, so decision-makers need all the help they can get. The disruption they’re facing today is powerful, and they need powerful tools to navigate it.
Planning innovation for a changing world
Here at Workday, we always understood the importance of planning. Digital transformation in finance, which 54% of CFOs surveyed said they’ve already begun to implement, requires advances like automation to cut the time their teams spend on previously manual tasks like data collection and consolidation, machine learning to improve the accuracy of forecasts over time, and timely insights so managers throughout the enterprise can confidently plan how their actions will impact the business. We’ve built all of these capabilities into Workday Adaptive Planning, and together they’ve helped to define what enterprises have come to expect from a modern planning environment.
But because disruption never rests, neither do we. And the latest release of Workday Adaptive Planning illustrates how hard we’ve been working to deliver the kind of innovations enterprises need today, while laying the groundwork for even further innovations to come. Here’s a summary of some powerful new capabilities available to Workday customers in this release.
Enhanced support for dynamic modeling across the enterprise
Back in 2018 when we introduced Elastic Hypercube Technology (EHT), our customers found themselves able to build models without being constrained by the usual limits planning platforms imposed on users. But EHT had another advantage: massive, enterprise scalability. And we’re really taking advantage of both in this latest release.
That’s important because as planning extends to the entire enterprise, budgets and forecasts incorporate not just financial data but operational data as well. So modeling becomes more complex, and that puts even more demands on the modeling engine.
So it’s a good thing we came up with EHT. Its robust, scalable, and elastic foundation has allowed us to invest further in enabling decision-makers throughout the business to model anything.
For instance, our latest release features something we call derived dimension values. This new feature allows you to dynamically classify data based on rules you’ve set so you can run what-if scenarios to understand, for example, how certain customer revenue projections vary by state. This works even if that information isn’t part of the input data set—and it’s all executed in real time, just like a formula.
Machine learning powers intelligent planning
At Workday, we see machine learning as an essential enabler of what we call intelligent planning, which allows you to plan without limits and anticipate what’s next with accuracy and confidence. The result, of course, is increased business agility.
With Workday Adaptive Planning, machine learning isn’t some separate application or service. It’s embedded into the product—right into our EHT architecture—because we believe it’s integral to the future of planning itself. Once we accomplished that, we set about determining which intelligent planning use cases benefit the most from machine learning. A few stand out:
- Time series prediction, which applies the power of machine learning to model events over a period of time to develop more accurate predictive forecasts. The machine learning algorithm takes in historical and current data to accurately predict likely outcomes for revenues, expenses, and other critical business variables. And by learning from data-driven decisions and feedback, the system improves its predictive capabilities over time.
- Anomaly detection, which harnesses time series prediction to alert planners when user input falls outside normal and historical ranges. By flagging outlier inputs, this feature helps decision-makers avoid acting on data that may not represent true business conditions.
- Outlier reporting, which uses predictive analytics to compare a machine learning-driven forecast against a planner’s forecast. Newly introduced in 2020 Release 2, outlier reporting identifies accounts that show significant variances between predictive and planner forecasts, which helps alert decision-makers to potential problems before either forecast is acted on.
Our evolving use of machine learning is helping our customers leverage the massive scalability of EHT to save them time, prevent potential missteps, and free up cycles for more strategic activities. And we’re just getting started.
Workforce planning within a unified environment
We continue to make strides in seamlessly integrating Workday Adaptive Planning into the Workday suite of cloud enterprise applications—part of Workday’s unique Power of One strategy to create a foundation that allows customers to plan, execute, and analyze all in one system. With one experience, one source for data, one security model, and one community, we aim to deliver an unmatched customer experience while meeting the highest security standards. This is core to our architecture.
Our latest release reflects this commitment to the Power of One, while delivering innovations that reach straight into the most vital part of any organization striving for business agility: the workforce.
A new capability in Workday Adaptive Planning demonstrates this by accelerating the planning-to-execution cycle. Now you can streamline the process of creating new positions in Workday Human Capital Management from your workforce plans. Workday provides direct links between the planned positions and created positions, which provides real-time awareness of hiring actions taken based on the plan, reducing the need to manually reconcile that information.
An expanded integration framework = agility for all
We continue to enhance our integration framework to not only import data from anywhere, but also to easily export data from our planning environment to your other solutions. For example, we now make it easy to publish new customer account assignments back to your CRM solution so sellers can start to execute without worrying about data imports, syncs, or other steps that could delay them from getting to work. Because this is part of our own native integration framework, we make it easy to set up and manage. You can even run it on a schedule if you like.
This is so popular with our customers that Workday Adaptive Planning now regularly integrates with more than 200 transactional systems and data sources. That’s quite an ecosystem, but it’s part of our commitment to remaining an open cloud platform, even as we advance our Workday Power of One integration.
We think innovations like these help explain why Workday is the industry’s only cloud planning provider with more than 5,300 customers across organizations of all sizes. These customers trust us to keep aggressively advancing the state of the art in planning. We take their faith in us seriously.
Because in an age of disruption and shifting priorities, agility is the currency of success. And planning is the key to achieving it.