Anaplan has always been focused on changing the way financial planners do their work, moving it from Excel spreadsheets to a cloud service. Today, the company announced Anaplan App Hub, an online store/community for sharing financial planning apps.
Anaplan has been called an Excel killer by some because it wants to take financial planning out of the static spreadsheet and move it into the cloud as a service. This type of change in the stodgy halls of financial planning is difficult enough to pull off, but Anaplan got $100M in venture funding last May (on a valuation reported at more than $1B), and it hasn’t stopped there. It wants to build a community of financial planners who share ideas and techniques about financial planning.
When the company announced the funding in May, it also announced the intent to launch the App Hub as an online marketplace to share financial planning applications you can build and package inside of Anaplan. That vision became a reality today and Anaplan customers can now access apps in their marketplace, some of which have been created by Anaplan to seed the hub and others by partners like Deloitte.
Folia Grace, VP of product marketing at Anaplan told me the intent is a bit different from the average enterprise app store. She says in the typical app store, using Salesforce.com as an example, third parties create applications and you download and use them, but she points out that you can’t change them.
Anaplan apps are aimed specifically at the enterprise financial planners and as such, they can download an app, get started very quickly, then customize it to meet their own forecasting and planning requirements, whether that’s altering the formulas or the language used to match the needs of an individual organization.
For now, there are around 100 apps in the store for today’s launch, but the hope is that now that they have built it, the financial planners will come and share their apps with fellow financial planners in a spirit of camaraderie and community, not unlike the open source spirit of sharing and giving back to the community.
Grace says the idea for the App Hub came from a customer who wanted to have a place where financial planners could share ideas to advance the art and science of planning, and she says this gives them the outlet to do this. The question is, are financial planners wired to behave this way? Do they want to share their models with others in the interest of advancing the field or do they see their work as something that gives their individual company’s some sort of competitive advantage?
The idea of building a platform on top of which customers can contribute and share ideas is not new, but the fact that Anaplan is trying to do this with financial planners is an unusual approach. Providing an outlet for a community like this is one thing, but it will be interesting to see if all financial planners share the notion of advancing the field through a community or if they want to hold their work close to the vest. Time will tell.