IBM Vision 2017 was a whirlwind of activity for our clients and our team members who attended the show. Many of our clients stopped by our booth at the expo and joined us for a “sold-out” cocktail party we hosted one evening of the conference.
We had a lot of fun, but there was also a huge amount of learning done throughout the multi-day conference. On the partner side, our CEO, Ken Wolf, participated in a number of sessions during the Business Partner Summit. During the main conference, my colleague Lee Lazarow, presented to a standing-room only audience on Best Practices When Your Chart of Accounts is Changing. Later that same day, I had the opportunity to share a case study on how we worked with our partner AlignAlytics to help a national fitness chain track, analyze and manage same store sales through visualization using IBM Cognos Analytics/Cognos BI.
Thinking back about the various sessions offered during the conference, I think the most compelling ones dealt with IBM’s roadmap for IBM Planning Analytics. As most IBM clients know, IBM Planning Analytics is the next generation of TM1. The roadmap discussions presented a clear picture of where the product is today and which new components are coming in the next three to six months. My takeaway is that IBM is committed to pushing the envelope with Planning Analytics and it will bring tremendous benefits to our clients.
There was also a major emphasis on the visual components of Planning Analytics. Attendees were able to see examples of what can be built in IBM Planning Analytics Workspace (PAW) and how that can be used with Cognos Analytics. Many of these sessions dove into the options for creating charts and graphs in PAW. This new component is a powerful tool for building out sophisticated dashboards. These visualization tools – whether they be charts, graphs, or dashboards—are a giant step to further empower finance to drive and create visuals to tell their own story.
This might sound like old news. After all, hasn’t finance always been able to create charts and graphs in Excel? When you place the potential of these visualization tools into the context of the transformation taking place in finance, then it’s clear that we are on the precipice of a seismic shift for the role of finance.
As we (and others) have mentioned before, finance is no longer just about presenting the numbers. The Office of Finance has had the keys to the organization’s data for many years. But the tools to make sense of that data easily and in a way that is easily consumed by non-finance people have not quite been there. Until now. With IBM Planning Analytics Workspace, the powerful TM1 engine underpinning the entire IBM Planning Analytics solution, and IBM’s focus on moving the product forward, now the right tools are in the hands of finance to tell the story previously locked in the data. Finance can tell that story by themselves, without relying on IT, and tell it in a way that is easily understood by many different types of people in the organization. That certainly completes a vision of the potential for the Office of Finance.