2015 Buzzwords and Trends in EPM


Want a reality check?   The Hyperion brand is 30+ years old. What a ride it has been.

If you have been watching lately you will know that Oracle has been hosting many EPM Days all across the nation. These are fantastic regional events that bring local people together to network and get some insight with some cutting edge workshops and EPM roadmaps.

During this EPM Days blitz, Oracle released Oracle’s Enterprise Performance Management Top Trends that outlined their take on the latest EPM trends… which is more of a of a multi-paged info graphic.

Between these events and recent publications, I have seen quite a reoccurring theme in Oracle’s EPM market strategy and roadmap, along with the obligatory bombardment of the latest and new buzzwords of the day. A few stick out to me….

1.) “Big Data”

The IT Side Take:

  • “90% of todays data has been generated in the last 24 months”
  • “Exponential growth of data being collected”
  • “We now have more data now than we had before”
  • “We have more data than can be realistically be processed with normal commodity hardware”

Ok we get it… but is there any point of time in history where we would not be able to say the same thing? Do we really think this is a new problem? It’s not… “Big Data” is just the new buzzword… actually not so new… it was coined in 1999.

We have always known about increasing data volumes.. it was just called different things.. In the 80’s they used terms like “Data Explosion” and in the 2000’s words like “cyberdata” or “cyberinfrastructure.” A lot came for the expectation of sensor data and RFID. The term big data means the same thing as the rest of them, but more aligns with other common phrases such as big oil and big tobacco.

And to be honest, the solution to this data volume problem has always been relatively the same as well. To solve problems with large amount of data, the solution was to break up the data up into chunks, process it separately and in parallel, then put it back together in a reportable format. Terms such as grid computing and distributed computing have been around forever and were invented for exactly this issue.

Terms such as Neural Networks and Machine Learning have been simply replaced with “big data discovery” and “predictive Analytics”…. All meaning about the same thing.

However, it’s the marketing behind it that is makes it new and shiny. Somehow the high tech marketing industry has convinced people that the large data volume issue was discovered and solved with the advent of Hadoop.

2.) “Internet of Things”

The IT Side take:

There will obviously be more Internet connected devices than the human population in very short order. Mobile devices are expected to grow to 12.5b by 2020. Many people are carrying around multiple mobile devices. Houses, appliances, TVs, cars, watches, etc are becoming connected with their own IP addresses. But is this new? Didn’t we know this was coming in 1998 when we formalized the IPV6 to allow for 2128 IP addresses?

Will these devices make our lives more convenient? Of Course.   But, more importantly this gives companies (and governments?) many more things to track your behavior… See “1. Big Data”

3.) “Digital Disruption”

The IT Side Take:

Simple term implying technological innovation can come quickly and disrupt markets the same way it always has and always will. The term implies you should reinvent your business to embrace or even lead rapid market change, referencing stories about ATMs, smart devices, and Uber. But has there ever a time in history where that would not be sound advice? It’s a bit over used and has lost it’s meaning.

I don’t mean to get caught up on the buzz words, but it’s not just me. Check out

Gartner’s Hype Cycle for emerging technologies. There is even a graphical representation on the buzzworthiness of modern fads. Priceless…

Buzzwords aside, I think we can glean some sense of reality and direction, even from Oracle buzzwords and other industry marketing. The main themes in EPM that are repeated at these conferences and meetings: Big Data, Cloud, Mobile, Social collaboration, etc.

Personally, what I try to do is read between the lines and understand how that relates to our lives as EPM/Hyperion users, administrators, and analysts.

What I have learned is that undoubtedly financial analysts of the near future will be “DFO”, or Digital From Birth. The idea of not having continuous Internet based access to information, portable data, and instant collaboration is unfathomable. And those that are going to succeed will deliver those capabilities to those financial analysts and will gain competitive advantage by doing so.

The world is evolving… decisions cannot be made by guts or instincts… its with data. The key is to drive data into daily decision making. The talent of tomorrow will have vastly different expectations of analytics and how to interact.

Big data for finance

  • Embrace predictive analytics to improve capital allocation and operations
  • Collaborate with operations to interpret new data sources
  • Increase frequency and broaden scope of management reporting.

Let’s face it… financial data in and of itself is not necessarily “big data” however, mixing operational and management data and analyzing financial effects could very well be.

EPM in Finance

  • Develop agile planning process to respond to changing environment.
  • Connect operational planning with financial assumptions
  • Push EPM lower to widen influence with line of business.

EPM on the go

  • Mobile devices to increase to 12.5b by 2020
  • Mobile doubles adoption rates for business analysis.
  • Mobile adoption to grow 10x in 2014.
  • Make processes portable.

Collaboration and Social

  • Pursue the wisdom of the crowd
  • Expand qualitative commentary in management reporting process
  • Partner with CMO to monitor reputation risk and impact on operating assumptions

Average worker collaborates with 10 or more people to accomplish daily tasks.

So perhaps it is time to look at Oracle EPM slightly differently. Generally I see people using the Oracle EPM suite for historic reporting, annual planning, controls and compliance, transaction processing, etc.

Perhaps the new way to look at EPM is as a new business navigation system. Being able to adapt to market events such as new regulations, disruptive competitors, or customer culture. Maybe we can think of EPM as a tool for real-time decision making, predicting the future, continuous improvement.

Sounds good and all… but there will certainly be cultural changes. Shift from using the tool as a report and statement generator and more of a predictive analytic tool. Shift from chasing the seemingly rising number restatements to an anytime virtual close. (Oracle claims they have customers that close 25 times a day)

What does it take? Willingness to change at all levels, steering committees and councils, world-class data governance, senior executive sponsorship, and investment. Hard? Maybe. Mandatory? You bet. Millennial analysts are coming. Lets get started…

~ by Eric Helmer on March 23, 2015.

One Response to “2015 Buzzwords and Trends in EPM”

  1. Excellent information, as always.

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