UPDATED 07:30 EDT / FEBRUARY 25 2021


Anaplan brings its business planning tools to Amazon Web Services’ cloud

Anaplan Inc. said today that it’s making its suite of business planning and forecasting services available on Amazon Web Services Inc.’s public cloud platform.

Anaplan sells an enterprise platform that’s used for all kinds of business planning purposes. The offering is centered on an in-memory database and calculation engine called HyperBlock that enables customers to organize and analyze disparate sets of data quickly from finance, human resources, sales and other business operations.

The news came alongside the announcement of better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter earnings reported today, though investors clearly were hoping for more: The company’s stock was falling more than 12% in trading this morning, following almost an 11% uptick on the year, possibly because investors might have been hoping for somewhat higher revenue growth in fiscal 2022.

One key advantage of Anaplan’s platform is its Excel-style functionality, which helps make it more accessible to ordinary business workers. The software includes modules to help make data-driven decisions in key areas such as budgeting, demand, quota and workforce planning, planning and forecasting, commission calculation, financial consolidation and profitability modeling, for example.

Ana Pinczuk, senior vice president and chief development officer at Anaplan, explained in an interview with SiliconANGLE that Anaplan is a horizontal planning platform for businesses that be used by companies for tasks such as sales planning and cloud spend planning.

The Anaplan on AWS offering will combine Anaplan’s business planning tools with Amazon’s scalable cloud infrastructure and will enable businesses to work with large, diverse data sets and analyze many different complex scenarios in real-time, Pinczuk said.

“We’re trying to expand the reach of the customers we serve,” Pinczuk said. She added that Anaplan will be offered through the AWS Marketplace too, and that should open the platform up to a much broader set of customers. “Anaplan plus AWS together serve a very wide market,” she said.

Most of the new customers Anaplan is targeting already have existing relationships with cloud providers such as AWS. Pinczuk said Anaplan on AWS will make it easier for those customers to connect their cloud-based data with its business planning software.

For example, customers will be able to pair its Anaplan’s flexible scenario modeling capabilities with the new Anaplan PlanIQ with Amazon Forecast tool to improve the accuracy of their forecasts and then re-forecast for different scenarios they model. Anaplan PlanIQ with Amazon Forecast is a service that taps into third-party data such as weather patterns and forecasts to predict their impact on business supply chains.

Users will also be able to integrate services such as Amazon Simple Storage Service and Amazon Redshift for data analytics directly with the Anaplan platform. This would help customers to create more accurate forecasts in a range of industries and verticals, the company said.

The offering targets numerous industry verticals, Pinczuk said. As an example, Anaplan has recently created a new vaccine distribution planning solution that can help governments and public health agencies to manage COVID-19 vaccine rollouts. The solution covers everything from cold chain logistics to site staffing and resource management. It works by connecting patient and site level activity to planning and forecasting processes, making it easier for health agencies to allocate consumables, forecast costs and pivot in real-time to redistribute their inventory when required.

For example, the company said, a public health agency can develop a variety of scenarios to analyze the impact of numerous constraints, such as different types of vaccines, cold chain storage restrictions, spoilage rules, follow-up dosage rules and demographic information. That could enable them to adjust or reallocate resources quickly across sites.

Forrest Danson, an analyst with Deloitte Consulting LLP, said in Anaplan’s prepared materials that agile forecasting and planning tools help organizations to make smarter decisions in real-time. “Anaplan on AWS can help enterprises plan across multiple dimensions in order to keep pace with rapid market shifts and to capitalize on value-creation opportunities,” he said.

Constellation Research Inc. analyst Holger Mueller told SiliconANGLE that the partnership looks to be a good one from Anaplan’s perspective, because, like all software-as-a-service providers, it needs infrastructure-as-a-service partners to power its workloads.

It’s also an important one for AWS, he said, because IaaS providers are keen to get SaaS platforms like Anaplan on their clouds as they provide workloads for thousands of customers, and also do most of the migration work too.

“It means that new customers will then suddenly just show up on Amazon’s cloud and create more workloads, making its economies of scale hum along nicely,” Mueller said. “The competition between IaaS vendors like Amazon is really to try and be a ‘preferred’ partner, that has primary access to the development, tests and sales systems of the SaaS vendor.”

Anaplan’s partnership with AWS is its second such deal with a major public cloud infrastructure provider, following a similar announcement with Google Cloud last September. Pinczuk told SiliconANGLE that the company is pursuing a hybrid cloud strategy, and that customers can expect more public cloud partnerships in the future.

“We want a go-to market strategy, not just an infrastructure deal,” she said. “The goal is to enable our growth by leveraging the scale and reach of the public clouds.”

For its fourth quarter ended Jan. 31, Anaplan reported an operating loss of $41.5 million, or 29 cents a share, a bit more than a year ago, on a 25% rise in revenue, to $122.5 million. Adjusted for costs such as stock compensation, the operating loss was $9.4 million, or seven cents a share. Subscription revenue rose 26%, to $112.6 million.

The company also issued a slightly more positive outlook for the current quarter, calling for an adjusted operating margin between negative 9.5% and negative 10.5% on revenue of $126.5 million to $127.5 million. Billings are expected to land between $122 million and $124 million.

With reporting from Robert Hof

Image: Anaplan

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