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Still use spreadsheets for financial modeling?  Host Analytics would like a word.

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One hypothetical benefit of putting enterprise performance management applications in the cloud—circumventing spreadsheets in the process—is the advantage this brings when it comes to collaboration.

The problem with that approach is many individuals and teams outside the finance department contribute to forecasting—or, at least, they should.

Little wonder that Host Analytics talks up why its latest offering, Modeling Cloud, is so spreadsheet-friendly. “Excel has persisted for a reason, and it’s not all bad,” said Host Analytics CEO Dave Kellogg said, referring to Microsoft’s dominant application.

The simplest one: most teams do planning calculations of their own, which creates pockets of forecast information that aren’t well integrated.

Take the case of analyzing the upside revenue impact of adding a five new sales reps against the downside of their compensation, an exercise that shouldn’t be limited just to the sales planning team.

Host Analytics’ thesis is that cloud modeling tools must get better at accommodating data pulled from more sources, especially spreadsheets. Lo and behold, its new service lets managers share information in the same Excel reports they’ve been using for years. At the same time, the data can be rationalized across different departments and rolled up into forecasts. “It’s a super practical approach to bring these people back into the fold,” Kellogg said.

As Ventana Research analyst Robert Kugel observes: “Despite their many shortcomings, users find spreadsheets easy to use, and software vendors have been historically challenged to deliver a modeling environment to match that ease-of-use.”

Host Analytics is backed with more than $86 million in venture funding. Last year, its new annual recurring revenue increased by 115%. Other companies championing the cause of enterprise planning in the cloud include Adaptive Insights, which hired a new CEO in January; Anaplan, which grew bookings by 200% last year; and Tidemark, which tripled its revenue under contract over the past 12 months with customers like Chiquita, Hostess and Netflix.

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