The pace of change in business today could accurately be described as “breakneck”—so it makes sense that business leaders are responding with a new model for planning. Research by MIT Technology Review Insights and Oracle found that 74% of surveyed business leaders are expecting connected enterprise planning to improve collaboration and decision-making. This is just one of many insights shared during the Oracle Cloud Virtual Summit, “Boost Your Agility with Connected Planning.”
Connected planning breaks down the silos between financial and operational planning processes. Think of finance as the connection hub for planning across human resources, supply chain and operations, sales and marketing, and IT. When an organization can continuously plan together as one with this model—instead of in a linear path across siloed functions—it becomes more agile and can respond faster to change. Laurel Ruma, editorial director of MIT Technology Review Insights—who joined the program to share more insights from the MIT report—pointed out that 62% of organizations use scenario modeling to identify, counter, and respond to future uncertainties.
Rapid change has been a reality for years, but the past two years supercharged that pace as businesses were forced to deal with a host of unexpected new challenges. Many leaders feel the collective experience pulled global business practices into the future faster than anticipated—but the performance bar isn’t coming back down.
“In 2020, what we thought was fast was only the beginning of seismic change on every level around the world in the span of just a few weeks, accelerating the need for non-negotiable business change,” says Kimberly Ellison-Taylor, CEO of KET Solutions, who hosted the event. “And now, there’s no going back.”
This makes it challenging for businesses to plan for the future. For example, Ellison-Taylor says that annual or quarterly forecasting with spreadsheets simply doesn’t work in an environment rife with supply chain problems, quickly morphing concepts of labor and workplaces, and the need to closely manage cash.
“Plans are now made to be continuously changed, refined, and adjusted,” Ellison-Taylor says. “It’s less about creating the perfect plan, and more about refinement and reforecasting.”
Other insights shared at the event help to show what successful connected planning looks like and how to do it. For Oracle customer Kraft Heinz, connected planning is enabling smarter decisions in a low-margin industry—such as advertising spend—by standardizing data for better insights across hundreds of brands in 40-plus countries.
“Understanding where we play absolutely matters,” says Eric Mendez, Associate Director, Finance and IT, Kraft Heinz. “Finance plays a critical role in that space. It’s finance that provides the visibility. It’s finance that provides the insights.”
For South African telecom conglomerate MTN Group, visibility for planning across diverse units has positioned the company for continued growth. MTN manages 20 different operations for 277 million subscribers and has grown through acquisition.
“We had a lot of legacy systems across our operations, and we had very little visibility centralized across the group. Therefore, we couldn’t really leverage our scale,” says Johan Pretorius, General Manager of Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), MTN. “By transitioning to Oracle Enterprise Performance Management, the biggest transformation has been linking business with finance, serving as the bridge between how business functions and our finance operations.”
Oracle also shares its own connected planning transformation story using EPM. Prior to connected planning, Oracle had a fragmented approach to planning and lacked a combined view of plans across financials, operational matrices, supply chain, sales, workforce, and IT. Bringing all of that planning into one platform with finance at the center has transformed the role of FP&A at Oracle.
“We’re really active partners with the business, helping them with data-driven insight and predictive planning to help them make better decisions and help grow the business,” says Matt Stirrup, Senior Vice President and Head of FP&A, Oracle.
Could connected enterprise planning transform your company as well?