Host Analytics is a vendor in the so-called enterprise performance management (EPM) space. For those unaccustomed to the world of the enterprise, it works like this: few people actually do anything, while many, many more people spend their time planning and reporting. It’s a sad fact of life that what constitutes “work” in a large enterprise would be scoffed at by those who spend their lives working on a building site, in a hospital, or in a school.

My thoughts on the efficiency and efficacy of the enterprise aside, all of that planning and reporting requires a tool. And in this, organizations have a couple of choices. First, they can do what they’ve done since the dawn of the IT age and leverage a spreadsheeting tool such as Excel. This is where many finance pros like to play and they spend their days geeking out on pivot tables and monstrous spreadsheets.

The other option is to leverage an EPM solution – and large platform vendors (such as Oracle and SAP), as well as pureplay companies (Host Analytics, Anaplan, Adaptive Insights etc), are happy to offer these tools. For its part, Host boasts of over 1,000 customers in 90 countries including such marques as Bose, Boston Red Sox, FitBit, La-Z-Boy, Mayo Clinic, NPR, OpenTable, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Pinterest, Swissport, TOMS Shoes, and Vitamin Shoppe.

Democratization

But if you’re a vendor trying to displace a tool which is a favorite of the main users of your class of software, you have a real challenge at hand. And one way to mitigate that challenge is to democratize the solution. Essentially what this entails is ensuring that less skilled individuals can suddenly leverage your class of software, thus opening up an entirely new market. The rise of low-code and no-code development solutions is an analogous situation.

In an attempt to democratize EPM, Host is announcing a new offering, “Project Orion” that is aimed at offering an EPM tool which is specifically designed for business users. Now in beta status, Orion is intended for general availability in the second quarter of this year.

In thinking about how to create Orion, Host Analytics spent time pondering the advent of EPM and came to its own conclusion: that for decades, EPM vendors have seen the end-user interface as a configuration problem – designing the system for the finance professional and then re-configuring it or “dumbing it down” for the business user. Instead, Host took the concept of bottom-up, to EPM.

So, what does it do?

Does it do what it says on the box? You be the judge, initially Project Orion features:

  • A “consumer-grade” user interface. A single interface for planning, budgeting, and forecasting
  • A task-oriented design that guides business users through the most mission-critical EPM tasks. Don’t call it “dumbed down” call it simplified and helpful
  • One eye still on the finance role. Orion doesn’t alienate the existing finance users – there is enough customization available to keep them happy

A win/win?

Host is bullish and suggests that both sides of the house win with Orion: finance wins by driving higher engagement, collaboration, and accountability in planning and budgeting while maintaining control over the budgeting process. Business users win by gaining real-time visibility into their budgets, as well as attaining more effective and efficient use of resources.

Whether this will come to bear has as much about elitism (I can imagine finance individuals scoffing at a simplified solution set) and turf protection as it does anything else. For now, however, project Orion is an interesting addition to the EPM space.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

Leave a Reply