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Vision from the Top 2012: John Herr, Adaptive Planning

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In 2020, looking back on this decade, what will be the single most impactful technical advancement driving business growth?

Looking back on this decade which started deep in a global recession, the importance of understanding the true financial picture of an operation became critical. Companies of all sizes needed the ability to conduct more what-if analysis, get real-time analytics, and operate with greater agility than they had in growth times. With these economic conditions in mind, two important technological advancements, cloud computing and mobile, have gained leadership as the platform for managing a company. Realoperational management expands beyond the finance department to planning and analysis across all aspects of a company.

Structural changes in our global economy and the way we communicate are presenting a perfect storm for cloud and mobile to intersect. These two powerful platforms are disrupting the technology landscape and will prove to be the single most impactful advancement over the next eight years. The trend has already begun. Now all individuals need is an internet connection to access cloud applications anywhere and at any time. Couple cloud applications with mobile devices and this technology intersection will truly transform the way we live and work.

The explosion of tablets will drive increased demand for Corporate Performance Management (CPM) and a host of other applications necessary for business productivity in an increasingly complex, inter-related and uncertain economy. As conditions require daily access to key metrics, managers and executives will increasingly rely on dashboards and reports to access this information from anywhere and on any device, so they can operate effectively and make decisions swiftly. Either one of these trends discussed here, cloud and mobile, is capable of significant transformation, but the confluence of these technological platforms will disrupt the market as pressure to cut costs and make faster decisions continues to loom in this period of economic uncertainty.

What do you do as CEO to keep your organization focused on customers and value?

At Adaptive Planning we have built a customer centric organization by hiring people who are focused on customer success, by measuring success through metrics that matter to the customer, not just the bottom line, and by building an organization that is truly customer centric. As a SaaS provider our business is dependent on our customers renewing and continuing to expand their relationships with us. The value we deliver is critical. As a result, we continually seek product feedback in the form of Customer User Groups, online forums, annual surveys, and customer support cases.

Adaptive Planning's product development roadmap is not based solely on what strategy our executive team has come up with, but rather is a direct result of the requests and product feedback from our customers. Our primary objective is to build the best product that we can that will meet the complex and varied needs of our customers, so they can benefit in their professional lives and transform how they strategically impact their organizations.

Because we are a SaaS vendor, we are able to monitor customer usage activity, proactively reach out to customers before their renewal period, and provide open access to executive management. This customer driven culture has earned us stripes in the form of #1 in customer satisfaction awards and more importantly renewals. In addition, our satisfied ecosystem of customers is a self-perpetuating community and we benefit from frequent introductions and referrals.

Social media and social business are big themes for 2012. In which areas of business will the social movement have the most impact (or most potential for impact)? Why?

The broad technological shift towards the social enterprise is an important one. Collaboration and the consumerization of the enterprise are critical trends that are impacting how employees communicate and operations function. As the social enterprise explodes going forward, collaboration capabilities in any cloud application will be critical. The recent political movements in the Middle East propelled by the advent of mobile and social platforms signals that this transformation is only just beginning and is reaching further than first world economies.

Corporate performance management processes-including budgeting, forecasting and reporting-are some of the most collaborative processes in business. At Adaptive Planning, we have been a leader in embedding collaborative capabilities into our SaaS CPM solution from day one. By harnessing these collaborative capabilities, finance, management and executive teams are better able to evaluate the feedback, input, and current thinking of numerous people throughout the organization-resulting in better informed decisions that drive real competitive advantage.

This interview was published in SIIA's Vision from the Top, a Software Division publication released at All About the Cloud 2012.