Advice and Information for Finance Professionals

How to make planning more collaborative for an uncertain world

Emma Hitzke
Senior Product Marketing Director, Emerging Tech

Corporate planning is more critical than ever, given the disruption and uncertainty caused by the global pandemic. Many enterprises are wondering: What technologies should we adopt to improve our situation and build resiliency for whatever may be around the next corner? How are organizations like mine successfully collaborating across finance, HR, and operations?

To uncover some answers, Oracle partnered with MIT Technology Review Insights on new research, in which they surveyed leaders from finance, supply chain and logistics, HR, and IT across the world.

Milestones on the road to recovery

To understand where organizations are along the recovery path, the study used a framework devised by McKinsey & Company consisting of five stages: resolving to move forward, building resilience to adverse conditions, returning to operational health, reimagining business models, and reforming the organization’s role in the global economy post-pandemic, especially in light of citizens’ potential demands for economic and social reform.

Most organizations are still in one of the first three stages:

  • 23% are addressing the immediate challenges that the crisis represents to the company, workforce, customers, and business partners (resolve)
  • 27% have addressed near-term cash management challenges and broader resiliency issues (resilience)
  • 27% have created detailed plan to return business to scale quickly (return)
  • 16% are looking ahead to the “next normal” (reimagination)
  • 6% are already considering how their new direction might affect practical matters such as potential new standards and compliance (reform)

Cloud adoption shifts into high gear

Most organizations had already begun a transition to cloud computing to realize cost efficiencies, free up IT resources, and simplify application deployment. When the pandemic hit, cloud adoption shifted into high gear, with 55% of respondents saying they accelerated their adoption of cloud-based applications and technologies. It’s easy to understand why: Cloud computing facilitated remote work during quarantine and gave companies the speed, intelligence, and agility to respond quickly to rapidly shifting circumstances. It is also helping companies leverage advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to power automation, scenario modeling, and data analytics.

Scenario modeling, in particular, is now crucial to help decision-makers recognize possible outcomes before committing to courses of action. In fact, 62% of organizations use it. Modern, cloud-based tools integrated with financial and operational systems are ideal for developing—and periodically recalibrating—complex scenarios, thanks to massive compute and storage capacity, as well as streamlined access to external data to further inform forecasts.

Best-in-class cloud enterprise applications also leverage AI and ML to examine historical data, compile insights, and create predictive models for the best, worst, and most likely outcomes. Currently, 58% of organizations’ planning systems and processes employ AI and ML.

Yet technology alone cannot run scenarios or connect planning across the enterprise. The people who use these systems need additional technical know-how and new soft skills. High-demand skills include data visualization (56% percent), AI and ML (49% percent), and interpersonal skills (45% percent).

To create the clearest and most accurate picture of the future, corporate planning must draw from data across the enterprise—HR, supply chain, and of course finance. That requires people skills, cross-functional collaboration, and a shared platform of consistent, accessible, and accurate data—one that provides a single source of truth for connected, enterprise-wide planning. 74% of corporate leaders expect that connected planning will improve collaboration and decision-making.

In contrast, traditionally siloed applications, such as separate financial and HR management systems, simply won’t suffice, and manual data sharing slows down decision-making and introduces the risk of error.

Ideally, organizations should connect planning systems and processes to their execution and transaction systems, such as ERP, HR management, customer relationship management, and supply chain applications. Many have done so, and for a quarter of these organizations, everything is automated. Migrating to the cloud is a critical first step in achieving this integration.

The path forward

When the 2020 coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, organizations worldwide scrambled to address a litany of emergency situations. Those that have migrated to cloud-based enterprise applications and developed the skills to foster efficient collaboration are well positioned to face future uncertainties and adapt to disruption. Those who have not are still mired in their recovery efforts. By planning collaboratively using cloud-based systems and tools, large organizations are poised to return to growth, improve operations, and find new ways to innovate.

Read the full report, “The case for collaborative planning in an uncertain world.”

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