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Adaptive leads cloud charge against Excel

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26th Mar 2013
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Adaptive Planning CEO Rob Hull recently visited the UK to meet the online application’s growing user base in this country. BusinessCloud9.com’s Stuart Lauchlan caught up with him while he was here.

As a pioneer of cloud-based planning and budgeting, Adaptive Planning has been on AccountingWEB’s radar for several years - ever since it was hailed as the newcomer of the year at the 2008 Software Satisfaction Awards.

Five years on and the developer is now well established here with more than 50 customers in the UK and Ireland. Adaptive has developed successful resale relationships, particularly with NetSuite, which markets the specialist tools as NetSuite Financial Planning. 

As a former CFO himself, Hull knows the frustrations that finance managers experience at the lack of suitable analytic business tools. But he could also see parallels in the way that after years of waiting for IT department logjams to clear before they could get the reports they wanted, sales and marketing people had been able to cater more effectively for their own needs by using the web-based Salesforce.com CRM application.

Adaptive Planning could challenge the stranglehold of ERP giants like Oracle and SAP on corporate performance management by following the same model.

“We were going to take IT out of the bottleneck and free up finance people to tackle business problems, not technology problems,” Hull said.

When he joined Adaptive Planning more than 10 years ago, Hull encountered resistance from fellow accountants who were sceptical about putting their trust (and confidential financial data) in the hands of such a small, unknown company. Some prospects would ask, “Why would I trust you?”

But, Hull said, “That’s not the case anymore. There is a growing comfort with the cloud.”

Now, he says, the boot is on the other foot. Having started lower down in the corporate food chain, Adaptive’s now has enough credibility to challenge ERP-linked big planning and budgeting systems like Hyperion and Cognos.

The developer’s early success was built on a “rip and replace” offering to take over from cumbersome Excel-based planning systems.

As a user himself, Hull commented: “I was frustrated by Excel as the affordable accessible tool. While I liked its flexibility and its familiarity I wanted it to have the power of a Hyperion. As a CFO I saw a lot of frustration with Excel and envy from wanting Hyperion but not wanting to pay.” 

Those attitudes exist not just in the mid-market, but in the enterprise market as well, he continued.

“As we’ve extended out our products, the value proposition has become apparent to the larger enterprises. We tend to get into an organisation through the office of the CFO, but this is a planning application so we do get visibility across the whole organisation.”

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