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Growing data complexity? Meet scalable enterprise performance management

IBM Planning Analytics Marketing, IBM

When businesses evaluate cloud infrastructure, databases or other core business systems, they nearly always consider scale as a decision factor. But scalability – the ability to grow as planning and business grows – is often overlooked for enterprise performance management.

So what do companies look for in a modern enterprise performance solution? Most frequently, it’s self-service, ease of use, a centralized view of all data instead of multiple sources that might not be aligned, and Microsoft Excel integration. These are all important attributesbut you shouldn’t overlook scalability for your enterprise performance management solution. Here’s why.

Why scalability matters

Today, business is messy. Business models and markets can change on a dime. Enterprise companies are distributed around the globe. The amount of data available for analysis is practically incalculable. Not only that, but the data can be as messy as the business: streaming, text, real time, semi-structured, structured, transactions—and the list goes on. The last thing you need is a solution that hits a data wall somewhere and slows to a crawl, can’t support your growing volume of data, or can’t model it at all.

And this can happen, as Ancestry.com can attest. The world’s largest for-profit genealogy company has more than 10 billion historical records, 10 million registered DNA participants and a “super cube” with 15 quintillion data points. In a search for a solution that would deliver numbers and calculations fast, the company soon discovered that six vendors on their short list couldn’t support their large volume of data or scale for future growth. Some vendors suggested breaking the super cube into smaller cubes, reducing dimensions, or joining business units and cost centers—none of which the company was willing to do. So, the enterprise performance management solution that could scale and more importantly, scale without impacting performance, was the one that Ancestry.com selected.

Enterprise performance management scalability is for everyone

You might be thinking, “I don’t have quintillions of data points.” Well, neither does American Public Media Group (APMG), a public radio organization in the US. However, their managers do need to know how personnel costs will affect their bottom line, which in the past was difficult because the old planning tool could not scale to accommodate both financial and personnel data. And it took hours to update, hindering meaningful analysis.

“In our old system, we had to split our payroll forecasting off from our income statement, because there was just too much data for it to handle in a single model,” said Patrick Olsen, lead technical analyst, APMG. “So you couldn’t just enter a new employee and see the effect on your financial position. It took time to reconcile the data between the two models, which was a big frustration.”

After a thorough search, the public radio station conglomerate found a solution that harnesses an in-memory analytics engine that helps ensure performance remains high even as the data they collected, analyzed, and modelled grew – helping to ensure they could analyze the impact of changes to line items like personnel in real-time.

No matter the size of your business, you need enterprise performance management that is described by an IBM customer as “limited only by your imagination – seemingly unlimited capability and flexibility to handle the most complex planning challenges.” Why? Because in the modern business environment, you never know what is going to happen next.

A new product line, a new sales region, and new revenue streams can all increase model and data complexity while affecting collaboration, alignment and visibility around planning. If your enterprise performance management solution is designed only to handle the way you’re doing business now, you are going to be frustrated by performance and speed issues very quickly. Because there is no question that your data will continue to grow, and your business environment will continue to change. The question is: do you have an enterprise performance management solution that is scalable enough to grow and change as your business does?

Users agree: IBM delivers enterprise performance management scalability

Of all the available enterprise performance management solutions, only IBM Planning Analytics, according to actual customers, provides “a flexible way to interact with and change their data in real time at scale.” With IBM Planning Analytics, you can start with a one simple model and increase data volumes, users, models and complexity without having to worry about impact to performance.

In The Planning Survey 2019, BARC research wrote: “‘Convincing performance is the main reason why customers buy IBM Planning Analytics. Its in-memory database [IBM TM1] is clearly capable of handling large data volumes as well as large numbers of users.”

But it doesn’t stop there. The scalability of IBM Planning Analytics offers the integrated planning needed to connect processes across multiple departments and geographies to drive more effective planning and decision-making. It delivers a unified view of data and drives collaboration that yields better results by breaking through siloed business activities. A shared view delivers the visibility and cohesion that enables an entire business to work toward a shared set of goals.

Learn more about how you can scale your planning process across your organization with integrated planning.