We've all been in meetings where a strategy question is asked and the data geek pulls out their smartphone and does some 'back of the envelope' calculations. The answer? 42. What were the assumptions? How did they get there so fast?
I'll admit, sometimes that data geek is me. As a great mentor of mine once said—never trust averages because if your feet are on fire and your hands are frozen, on average, you're not OK.
Being a data geek, I'm usually first to recognize that there is no substitute for a well-formed analysis which assesses a wide range of possible scenarios. When strategic questions are well framed, they are almost always multi-dimensional. Rarely, if ever, does a critical analysis just have two dimensions. Yet, we still try to force fit the scenarios into our favorite envelope—albeit a technical one—Excel.
Don't get me wrong, Excel spreadsheets have their place, but not for evaluating the feasibility of strategic business scenarios. Let's face it, pivot tables are used by so few consumers and though well intended don't fit the bill for scenario modeling. Why? For starters, the data is stored in two dimensions. I could go on forever on this topic but I'll spare you the time (for now).
What's missing from far too many management and board meetings is agile scenarios. Scenarios that factor in the entire enterprise data. Scenarios that understand the intricacies of the profit model and associated drivers. Scenarios that account for fluctuations in currency and a whole host of other pertinent factors in making the analysis sustainable and defensible.
From what I see in the labs at Oracle, I foresee a very different boardroom. I foresee one which is powered by emerging technologies like digital assistants, cloud computing, and natural language processing. I foresee one where the HiPPO's (Highest Paid Person's Opinion) view is augmented with facts. The API's built-into Oracle Analytics Cloud allows developers to quickly connect a variety of conversational interfaces to the platform. Digital assistants, chatbots, and voice-enabled smartphone access is just the beginning.
With Oracle Essbase Cloud, executives and board members will not only be able to have a conversation about the past but will be able to assess the plausibility of different scenarios of the future. Deloitte, for example, has already built an innovative solution which integrates Alexa with the Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service to help non-finance professionals engage more deeply in the planning and forecasting process. These conversational interfaces are sure to change the tone and tempo of every management meeting in the future. I for one can't wait!
If you want to see Oracle Analytics Cloud or Oracle Essbase Cloud for yourself, take one of our Quick Tours or Simulations. You can also find more resources on our Customized Content page. When you are ready to start a free trial, visit the Business Analytics website.