Workday joins crusade to modernize financial planning

June 30, 2015, 12:30 PM UTC
Courtesy of Workday, Inc.

The movement to modernize the tools that finance teams use for planning and decision-making just gained more momentum, as more CFOs prioritize analytics investments.

Category leader Adaptive Insights has closed $75 million in new financing led by JMI Equity, bringing its total to approximately $176 million. It won’t disclose the valuation, but it has quite the account pedigree. The company has signed up more than 2,700 customers for its cloud-based finance software, ranging from Coca-Cola to ZenDesk. That’s more than three times what the other startups in this category can boost, combined.

This latest infusion will go mainly toward global expansion. “This is about Excel replacement for corporate planning and the ‘cloudification’ of existing apps,” said Adaptive Insights CEO Tom Bogan, himself a former CFO and also the chairman of another software company, Citrix Systems. “Back when I made the transition from CFO to CEO, it was a lot harder to do,” he noted. “Today, you see it a lot more, and it’s really centered on the importance of analytics within organizations.”

Against that backdrop, Adaptive Insights has new reason to look over its shoulder.

That’s because Workday revealed plans this morning to sell its own financial planning solution, starting in March 2016. “Planning has been a top request from our customers, and we felt the time was right,” said Leighanne Levensaler, senior vice president of products for Workday.


Until now, the human resources and financial management company has relied mainly on relationships with other companies to offer this capability. Just two weeks ago, for example, Workday showed up as a new strategic investor participating in a $25 million round for Tidemark, another startup in the enterprise performance management category that claims accounts such as La Quinta Holdings and Veolia Environnement. Relationships such as these continue be important, Levensaler insists.

Aside from Adaptive Insights and Tidemark, two other high-profile cloud startups focused on financial planning are Anaplan and Host Analytics. There are also many smaller startups clamoring for attention. Exhibit A (from this week at least) is forecasting analytics company Prevedére, which Monday disclosed a $6.7 million Series A round led by PointGuard Ventures.

The first wave of Workday’s new product, aptly named Workday Planning, will introduce basic collaborative budgeting features that go beyond what people normally can manage using spreadsheets. By next September, “we feel we will have a solution rich enough for customers to transition onto Workday” from other corporate planning software, Levensaler said. The software will be compelling for companies that use Workday’s financial software as a system of record. As mentioned previously, those customers include Netflix and Cushman & Wakefield.

Sergio Monsalve with Norwest Venture Partners, who serves on the Adaptive Insights board, suggests that the deepening interest in cloud financials is driven by several megatrends. Among the most prominent: the need for better cross-company collaboration when it comes to corporate planning and a yearning for real-time access to data. “For us, specifically, we aim to become the CFO’s best friend,” he said.

Close to 60% of the CFOs surveyed by Adaptive Insights for the Q2 version of its CFO Indicator named inaccurate and fragmented access to data as the Achilles heel of their strategic forecasting processes.

A separate survey by another player in this category, Epicor Software, came to a similar conclusion. Only half of the 1,500 CFOs or financial decision makers included in that research said they have “good visibility” into business division performance, sales and labor costs, raw materials metrics, and other data vital for decision-making. Almost 60% of the respondents still use Excel to access and analyze this information.

Sign up for Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter about the business of technology.

UPDATED, June 30: This story was updated to clarify the source of the Workday customer reference.

Read More

Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward