Anaplan looks to channel to support global growth

Software vendor talks channel growth as partners take greater role in go-to-market strategy

Anaplan says it is looking to grow its channel in line with recent changes to its go-to-market strategy that have seen the software firm transferring its services business over to partners.

Now, the enterprise performance management (EPM) software vendor says it wants partners to deliver a hundred percent of its implementations.

“Globally, we’re looking to build out our partner ecosystem,” Karen Clarke, regional VP Northern Europe, Anaplan, told Microscope at the vendor’s conference, Hub 2018, last week in Las Vegas.

“In the early says we did all the services ourselves, but in past year we’ve been changing that strategy, to start delivering through partners. Now our go-to-market is to work with partners on all projects,”

Anaplan runs a referral scheme, rather than a reseller channel model, where partners are contracted to deliver the system.

“Anaplan’s partners don’t make money from selling a model, but from the services they deliver to implement it,” says Alex Bakker, principal analyst at Information Services Group (ISG). “Anaplan doesn’t charge money to the partner when the partner sells, but makes money from the licences of Anaplan that the partners leave behind when their implementations are done.”

There is no conflict with partners, says Clarke, as the “partners appreciate we only take a small role in the project…we aren’t delivering end-to-end project ourselves now. We maintain a role, but we may be sub-contracting a partner, or they may be sub-contracting to us.”

This includes introducing partners into existing customer accounts, says Clarke, so “every customer has at least a link into one of our partners.”

“The customers are looking for a range of skills, and obviously Anaplan knows its products very well, but our partners bring so much more to the party. You hear a lot of people talking about change management and redesigning processes and changing the culture of organisations – partners bring that and deep industry expertise.”

However, Anaplan, which re-launched its channel programme in February to reflect its “next level” of growth, isn’t set on wholesale channel recruitment. Clarke maintains the San Francisco-based company is looking for “quality as well as quantity” to add to its 175 partners, globally.

Traditional systems “not good enough”

In his keynote address during the event, Anaplan’s CEO Frank Calderoni said traditional business planning processes are “too complex, too costly, too time-consuming…they are “just not good enough” for today’s enterprise.

Referring to the need to “reinvent” enterprise planning systems, the CEO said Anaplan was developing a solution that aims to reduce the time between planning and real time decision making to “zero”.

“The core of Anaplan’s strategy is that they provide a platform that is scalable, reliable and architecturally sound which can accommodate any modelling or planning activity,” explains Bakker.

Anaplan’s enterprise planning and forecasting platform looks to replace legacy planning systems, siloed data – and one of its biggest competitors – the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

“Everybody has their own data, their own process, their own software systems, and never the twain shall meet. It’s these artificial walls within an organisation that has kept them from performing better,” Ron Dimon, global alliance Anaplan leader at Deloitte, tells Microscope.

“We never thought about business planning holistically like this until Anaplan came along. No-one had put it on one platform; that’s what’s new.”

Anaplan competes with platforms from the likes of Oracle, SAP and IBM, plus dozens of planning point solutions from other software manufacturers. The vendor is convinced it sits apart from its competitors as the only vendor that straddles every business function across the enterprise.

“As companies become increasingly complex, multi-national and data-driven, understanding how the planning process works across the entire business is so important. This is where the Anaplan platform is so valuable – it can sit across all areas of the business, finance, sales, marketing and HR,” says Ian Stone CEO of UK Anaplan partner, Vuealta.


Growing demand

Stone said Vuealta, saw a gap in the market “to provide a dedicated service to support Anaplan customers with implementation, as well as business transformation and change expertise.”

“Usually, businesses start with implementing the platform in one function and then roll it out further once it sees the benefits. We are there to help them ensure that the initial implementation goes as smoothly and as efficiently as possible, in as short a time as possible. We then work with different stakeholders to expand the reach and impact of the solution across the business,” he explains

Stone says most businesses reach a tipping point; the point where they need to industrialise the solution.

“That could be one month or three years into the project. Businesses need advice on how to take the first steps and then progress along the way. Given the time we’ve spent working for Anaplan, we have a huge amount of experience and knowledge of the platform, meaning we can provide advisory and consultancy services to help customers get maximum benefit from their investment.”

According to Stone, global demand for Anaplan is growing, to the extent the firm is opening an office in Sydney, Australia to support the Asia Pacific region. “Aligning our business to support these multi-national customers from regional offices with a localised service is an important priority,” he says.

Indeed, Anaplan now has 850 customers including the likes of Coca Cola, Sky and Travelex, and at the end of 2017 announced it had raised $60 million in new funding, and is now valued at $1.4 billion.

To support this growth, Anaplan last week announced several new additions to its platform, including two new major capabilities: Workflow, designed to engage stakeholders in the ‘Connected Planning’ process for faster execution; and Optimizer, an advanced algorithm that can suggest a best solution in “complex” decision-making environments.

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