My journey with IBM Planning Analytics started with an early morning phone call to tell me that a member of my team had died, suddenly and unexpectedly. Not only was his loss a personal tragedy, it was a tragedy for the whole organization. Our teams relied heavily on his decades of expertise to help us plan and forecast strategically for the future.

The company had been through tough times overall. An expensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation meant there was no money left for other systems, and we’d been forced to run our budget process on a complicated network of 27 linked spreadsheets. Fred was the only one who knew how they worked and suddenly he wasn’t around.

If there was ever an example of key-person risk, this was it.

A world without spreadsheets 

We stumbled our way through the next budget process as best we could, until we came across IBM Planning Analytics with Watson. We could see, for the first time, a world that could exist without spreadsheets. We could see a world where people worked together on a common tool using a common approach to unite and agree on data-driven decisions for the good of the business. Better still, it was a world that didn’t rely on a single person.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Making sense of the data

Once we’d moved off the spreadsheets, we discovered the power that comes from managing data. We found countless problems with our master data, all of which had been masked through spreadsheet aggregation. We had been blissfully unaware of these challenges for years and now it was time to address them. By having full visibility of our data with IBM Planning Analytics, we could finally make sense of all our data together.

These problems were not trivial. In fact, we found examples where our product costs were materially misstated and discovered we’d been selling some products lower than what it cost to make. Through manual updates to spreadsheets, and working at a high level, errors – even seemingly blatant ones – were hiding in plain sight.

There’s little doubt in my mind that our investment in IBM Planning Analytics paid for itself several times over. Not only did we mitigate the key-person risk, which is honestly all we wanted to do, but we gained so much more. We made the organization value its data and want to put data to work for the good of the business.

Unlocking the value of data with the promise of AI

It’s often hard for leaders to see the value in analytical tools. Spreadsheets seem fine, but they’re not. They lull you into a false sense of security. Not only is the business logic linked with the spreadsheet owner, a risk on its own, but the sheer simplicity of the spreadsheet conceals the countless treasures within.

The promise of AI is tantalizing. It can provide insights that humans could never find. But realistically, can we ever hope to get there if the business still thinks in rows and columns? Our expert colleague’s untimely death was a tragedy, but we thank him every day for his legacy. I encourage business leaders that want to make a true impact on their bottom line to explore a continuous integrated planning solution like IBM Planning Analytics, which eliminates the manual work and helps to:

  • Enable automated planning processes
  • Encourage cross-functional collaboration
  • Embed predictive AI capabilities for more accurate predictive forecasting

If you want to learn more, including how to create multidimensional plans, budgets and forecasts, explore interactive dashboards and reports, and discover pre-built solutions by industry or use case, you can get started today with a 30-day free trial or request a demo of IBM Planning Analytics with Watson.

I also encourage you to join the IBM Business Analytics live stream event on October 25, to hear more case studies on how others have used Planning Analytics to accelerate decision making.

Register for the live stream event

Was this article helpful?

More from IBM Planning Analytics

The future of business planning with generative AI 

3 min read - In the rapidly-evolving business ecosystem, many companies face a combination of challenges, including inflation, supply chain disruptions and a complex labor market. These factors exert significant pressure on profitability. In this scenario, traditional planning methods may hinder a company's ability to respond quickly and strategically to changing opportunities and challenges.    This is where autonomous planning shines. This approach empowers organizations to utilize data-driven analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to make well-informed decisions swiftly and accurately, enabling them to navigate…

Building cars in a changing world: Audi’s Integrated Approach with IBM Planning Analytics

4 min read - Audi, a renowned German automobile manufacturer, stands proudly as a symbol of luxury, performance and cutting-edge automotive technology. Founded in 1909, Audi has evolved over the years into a global leader in the automotive industry. The brand's iconic four interlocking rings represent the merger of four independent carmakers in 1932, solidifying Audi's commitment to excellence and unity. Audi is known for its meticulous attention to detail, elegant design, and unmatched engineering. These qualities have earned them a dedicated following worldwide.…

Financial planning & budgeting: Navigating the Budgeting Paradox

5 min read - Budgeting, an essential pillar of financial planning for organizations, often presents a unique dilemma known as the “Budgeting Paradox.” Ideally, a budget should give the most accurate and timely idea of anticipated revenues and expenses. However, the traditional budgeting process, in its pursuit of precision and consensus, can take several months. By the time the budget is finalized and approved, it might already be outdated.In today's rapid pace of change and unpredictability, the conventional budgeting process is coming under scrutiny.It's…

IBM Newsletters

Get our newsletters and topic updates that deliver the latest thought leadership and insights on emerging trends.
Subscribe now More newsletters