April 15, 2015

Tidemark: An OnFinance Top 100 Company

Caroline Japic

AlwaysOn just published its first-ever OnFinance Top 100, a list of private companies that are “overturning the world of finance, and opening up new avenues of technology for money and financial management.” And it’s my pleasure to announce that Tidemark is one of the Top 100.

AlwaysOn Top 100 WinnerWe’re excited because the OnFinance 100 winners were chosen by top venture capital firms and industry experts who “went out into the entrepreneurial ecosystem to find the top 100 private companies that are creating opportunity” in markets that are seeing fundamental change due to the intersection of finance and technology. Selection was based on five criteria: innovation, market potential, commercialization, shareholder value and media buzz.

I like the notion that the companies in the OnFinance Top 100 are “creating opportunity” for companies to rethink how they use technology in finance. Tidemark appears in the Top 100’s Big Data & Analytics category, which makes sense because so many of our customers rely on Tidemark’s modern cloud and mobile-first financial planning & analytics (FP&A) apps to create more accurate plans and forecasts by incorporating data from multiple internal systems paired with external sources like Twitter, Facebook, Weather.com and more in real-time. They also utilize our advanced analytics to run detailed what-if scenarios so managers can predict how their decisions will affect costs, revenues and margins. In a very real sense, they’re creating opportunities to run in the now while impacting the future – and for many organizations, this is a game-changer.

You know you’re doing something right when you appear on the same list as such disruptive market forces as Zuora, Kickstarter and Square. We’re grateful for the recognition, and not just from the creators of the OnFinance Top 100 list. Recently, Tidemark debuted in the Visionaries quadrant of Gartner Research’s new Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management 2015.  2015 is off to a great start and we’re just getting started.

These honors are the result of the ongoing support and collaboration we’ve received from our customers, partners and employees. Their input directly influences Tidemark’s software features, capabilities and user experience. Because of this, we believe these honors belong to them.

April 10, 2015

From March Madness, a Lesson in Collaboration

Michaela Dempsey

It’s hard to conceive of a more powerful display of collaboration than the NCAA Basketball Tournament, known to us mere mortals as March Madness. Beginning with the Round of 64 on March 21 and culminating with the NCAA Championship game on April 6, millions of viewers watched a total of roughly 1,900 collegiate players work together methodically, strategically and sometimes feverishly in their effort to prevail in the most important contests of their young lives. There were 126 games played in just 2½ weeks.  Madness indeed.

TideMarch Madness GameHere at Tidemark, we followed this year’s tournament more closely than usual – and not just because we (and our customers) recognize the enormous value of collaboration. The competition felt more personal to us this year because we hosted our first annual NCAA Tournament bracket: the 2015 TideMarch Madness Game. We invited professionals from throughout the Higher Education community to try to out-predict their colleagues (and their rivals). Many participated in hopes of winning our Grand Prize: a $500 donation to the school or non-profit of their choice, along with an official NCAA game ball customized with our snazzy TideMarch Madness logo.

When the final score told the world that Duke beat Wisconsin, Ed Martin, Deputy CIO of George Washington University, stood alone in our bracket. While Ed didn’t pick Duke to go all the way, his bracket picks were prescient enough in the pre-final rounds to earn an impressive total score of 116. As our Grand Prize winner, Ed selected the Alliance for Lupus Research as recipient of a $500 donation from Tidemark. And let’s not forget that sweet NCAA game ball, which he’ll no doubt be showing off to colleagues at GWU.

Tied for our second place prize are Anthony Heyward, a member of the Finance Department at New York University, and Jason Patterson, senior computer technician at Pellissippi State Community College. Both gentlemen finished the tournament with 109 points – enough for each to earn a gift certificate from Rickshaw Bagworks, purveyors of handcrafted urban messenger bags and other great stuff.

As we wrap up our inaugural TideMarch Madness Game, we’d like to congratulate Ed, Anthony and Jason – and we’d like to thank all our Higher Ed participants. We’ll be back next year with even bigger prizes.

Until then, we’ll focus on what we do best:  Providing born-in-the-cloud, mobile-first applications built to make finance a participation sport. Fortunately for our customers in Higher Ed or every other industry, transforming your FP&A environment is nothing like March Madness. Because when you get in the game with Tidemark, everybody wins.

April 8, 2015

Removing Spreadsheet Hell Without Removing the Spreadsheet

Christian Gheorghe

With the wisdom of someone who has been doing financial planning and analysis (FP&A) for decades, Diginomica co-founder Dennis Howlett pointed out in his November 2014 article that the infamous Tibco $100M error wasn’t the only recent example of the “inconvenient truth” about spreadsheets. With so many documented cases around spreadsheet error, it begs the question, why do some many organizations retain their use in finance?

It isn’t the single spreadsheet’s fault; rather it’s the faulty processes that go along with spreadsheet hell that creates challenges. The flexibility and ubiquitous use of a spreadsheet is tough to replace when it comes to doing ad-hoc analysis and calculations. In fact, despite all of the well-known incidents like the error made for Tibco, many members of an FP&A team would fight frivolously to keep using them in their daily routines. Like the sticky note of the office worker, it is the scratchpad of the modeler. Spreadsheet hell occurs when way too many get used and (as Howlett points out), “…spreadsheets are treated with an astonishing degree of abuse.”

That’s why when we thought about improving the needs of our customers, we worked with Microsoft to develop bi-directional connectivity between Office and Office 365 with Tidemark to unify spreadsheets and EPM in a never-before seen way. That said, we’re proud to share our latest innovation – the Tidemark Excel App for Microsoft Office. For the first time, modelers gain a complete FP&A experience directly within Excel. This seamless unification allows Tidemark to live inside Office and Office 365 so the work a modeler performs in a spreadsheet can — with a single click — sync with automatic write-back into Tidemark where it’s woven into their processes, plans, analyses and visualizations.

Removing Spreadsheet Hell Without Removing the Spreadsheet

Curious on how this can help you? We’ve created a few ways for you to understand and start seeing the power of our new app, including:

  • A short video showcasing how it can help you
  • A data sheet with all of the specs and details on the Tidemark Excel App for Microsoft Office
  • A special upcoming webcast on Wed., April 29 at 10 am PT
  • The press release on the app including thoughts from Microsoft and our customer, Acxiom

In addition, you can view a complimentary copy of the new report from Blue Hill Research’s Hyoun Park and Scott Pezza on how Tidemark’s new Excel App will help the modern modeler. Enjoy and drop us a line to let us know what you think.

April 2, 2015

Why Being a Visionary is Just the Beginning…

Christian Gheorghe

We started Tidemark with the core belief that tides of traditional FP&A would change.

In fact, much of the design principles behind Tidemark’s platform and portfolio of apps are built on opposite philosophies of the systems that have been in the market over the last decade and beyond.

  • Our modern cloud computational services can provide data-driven decisions at the speed of business because it’s unbounded by data structures, volumes, dimensions or hierarchies
  • Our unique process-driven frameworks dramatically change outdated, time-consuming requirements that have challenged financial planning and analysis (FP&A) professionals for years due to limitations from legacy approaches
  • Our industry-first features like Storylines or Playbooks provide a more efficient alternative to age-old methods of showing a company’s performance
  • Our unprecedented Big Data Finance design integrates both internal and external information so teams can see reporting at the most granular levels and answers questions like never before
  • Our unique predictive analytics for finance and operations use machine-learning algorithms to understand the causation and correlations while predicting the paths likely to produce the most desired outcomes

Since our inception, we’ve relied on a number of supporters within our community to provide guidance and counsel in our mission to re-imagine how budgeting, planning and forecasting is done in today’s enterprise.

When industry experts like Gartner Research recognize this transformational paradigm, in our opinion, it’s a significant[i] sign that the corporate performance management (CPM) sector is seeing renewed and well deserved interest – which can only help the emerging strategic role that CFOs and FP&A teams have in the new digital era.

Gartner Magic QuadrantIt is in this context that we wanted to thank and acknowledge Gartner and those customers who have contributed to Tidemark’s placement as Visionaries in the new Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management 2015 in only our first year of participation.

Tidemark accomplished this position with our platform being Generally Available in only two and a half years. Coming out of beta in only August 2012 — in our opinion — Tidemark’s placement as Visionary marks one of the shortest durations of time for such an accomplished ranking in the MQ for CPM’s history. While being the youngest vendor in the study, Tidemark’s innovative features and ability to help customers were very well received.[ii]

As the newest company involved in the study, we need to acknowledge those in our community that helped us get here. Our customers, who’ve committed to working with us to forever change how they steer their company’s performance, are first and foremost. Our partners, who’ve joined our fight in challenging inefficient and antiquated practices in finance, are next. Tidemark employees – past and present – who find new ways to solve the problems that our customers inherited from legacy solutions plaguing our industry everyday are also on the list. A number of other supporters are in our minds and hearts as we celebrate this record-setting accomplishment.

Finally, I urge you to stay tuned to our blog as we have a new innovation being released next week that will change another age-old perception within finance. Gartner’s recognition is an important milestone for Tidemark as well as its customers and partners, but it’s also just the beginning.

 


[i] Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

 

[ii] Gartner ‘Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management [CPM] Suites’ by Christopher Iervolino, John E. Van Decker. 2 April 2015

March 24, 2015

Where Big Data and Finance Meet

Tony Rizzo

For many finance organizations, just the thought of Big Data can generate anxiety. It’s too large to harness effectively, and too diverse to process with existing relational databases and analytics tools. With uniquely complicating factors like ever increasing data volume, velocity and variety, Big Data overwhelms the systems and technologies today’s companies have in place to manage business performance.

All this is reflected in a recent BPM Partners survey of 250 enterprise decision-makers. BPM learned that when it comes to understanding what really drives a business and how to gain insights that help improve margins and operational performance, nearly half (47.5 percent) of those surveyed said the same thing:

We have a Big Data challenge.

And it’s finance that feels the challenge most. BPM found roughly seven out of 10 decision-makers say financial data is causing their most significant Big Data problems as they pertain to performance management. It’s not hard to imagine why. Data volumes are exploding to petabyte and exabyte levels, and making use of them requires tying together financial, operational, transactional, machine, social and benchmark data into a cohesive whole that enables better business decisions.   It also means moving from a quarterly or monthly view of performance to daily, hourly and even real-time.  That’s a lot to take on when you’re accustomed to making decisions about your business based on historical top-line numbers pulled every few weeks from your transactional and ERP systems.

data creating performance management Big Data challenges

Craig Schiff, president and CEO of BPM Partners, recently dug into these survey results in a webinar discussing how finance organizations can use Big Data to develop more accurate plans and forecasts, reliably predict future outcomes, and help shape the decisions made at the edges of a business. I joined Craig in the webinar to illustrate his points with examples of how companies are using Big Data in the real world. You can view a replay of the webinar, “Big Data Finance: Unlocking the Door to a New World of Business Planning,” to learn what organizations should be focusing on as they try to find their way in a Big Data world.

View the replay to discover what organizations want from Big Data, and where their current solutions fall short. Among the findings:

  • Collaboration makes all the difference. BPM found three out of four (74 percent) of respondents say they’d use collaborative features in their performance management platform – if only their current solution offered them. Even those who don’t yet have these capabilities recognize that when people outside of finance contribute to planning and forecasting, they end up with improvements in budget creation and development, forecasting accuracy, performance reporting and analysis, strategic planning, profitability optimization, consolidation, and even the monthly close.
  • Data visualizations should be interactive. For about 70 percent of organizations, static dashboards and simple bar charts don’t cut it. Decision-makers want to drill down to see performance data at granular levels – by product, part, SKU, ticket, employee, etc. And if they adjust an assumption or parameter, they want to immediately see the impact that change would have on everything else – and 73 percent want those capabilities baked into their performance management platform.
  • Too few executives grasp the importance of predictive analytics – but that will change. Only 22.7 percent of respondents view predictive capabilities as “essential” to forecasting, with another 52.2 percent calling it a “nice to have. But Schiff argues that the “essential” slice of that pie will grow rapidly as more companies realize how advanced predictive capabilities with such features as causation, correlation, and root cause analysis can help them better align labor resources with demand, anticipate disruptions in supply chains, and forecast the impact of weather on consumer buying behaviors for example.   Predictive analytics is no longer a “black box” when it is part of an integrated performance management system.
  • Ease of use is now a given. We live in a Turbo Tax world, which has taught millions of users that a well-designed experience can turn a previously complicated task into something virtually anyone can do with little or no training. Even as performance management software ingests, analyzes and visualizes Big Data, it must remain intuitive enough to push insight and analysis to every corner of the organization, while providing the same experience on any device an employee uses.
  • Context is everything. Enterprise data alone isn’t enough to enable truly data-driven decisions. Organizations need to understand the meaning of their raw performance metrics by integrating structured, behind-the-firewall data with unstructured, external data from dozens of sources, from Bloomberg to Twitter to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The webinar explores other findings as well, including the benefits of conducting what-if scenarios at a Big Data scale, and what’s keeping most vendors from tying multiple scenarios together so decision-makers can appreciate the total impact of their actions. And there are detailed examples from leading retailers and restaurant businesses, that reveal how using advanced analytics can determine who is your most profitable customer segment or which products sell best together.

View the complimentary webinar replay today, and find out what Big Data Finance could mean for you.