I recall, my first scuffle to cloud technologies in EPM space to sometime back in 2008. That time, any latent exposure to sensitive financial and strategic information on cloud would nip even the thought of moving away from on premise services. Besides, analysts remained in unison and maintained a view that it was really difficult to do real EPM in cloud, because one would probably be going to take feeds from lots of different databases and aggregate data to turn it into one version of the truth, and a SaaS system is not a candidate for that.
Fast forward to the present times - scales have tilted. Concerns on data security are waning and Organizations are appreciating benefits of adopting cloud technologies. It has opened flood gates for platform consolidations and this factor alone is turning to be a significant driver for graduating to cloud technologies.
However as noose is tightening on security concerns - technology and process challenges are coming to forefront. More diverse the existing EPM and ERP landscape, greater is the challenges towards transition to a complete cloud model. Thus amidst a visible Tsunami one aspect is evident that as cloud ecosystem penetrates the co-existence with on-premise is there to prevail. No wonder the initial thrust in EPM Cloud which was dominated by SaaS models is leading into IaaS.
Furthermore, consumers of cloud adopters remain mixed and range from those making a big bang transition to those players who are experimenting cloud in distinct pockets. While the common factors driving this decision is realizations of quick wins, flexibility of usage and economic advantage; none-the-less the solution approach differs widely.
Key ingredients that players need to be on top in their EPM cloud journey are :
1. Process re-engineering - crafting FP&A or any other EPM process into cloud invariably brings a change in the manner things are dealt. Quite often there is an urge to intertwine process improvements to such initiatives. Often this ambitious desire turns counter-productive. The mantra of success is to keep it simple and avoid mixing objectives.
2. Lift and shift is going to prevail especially during the transitionary phase. Thus it is imperative to make a judicious decision to carve key processes lest it injects process inefficiencies. Data migration is an equally important factor to be considered.
3. Master data harmonization - Metadata holds the key in defining any EPM application. This is more relevant in a hybrid ecosystem. Gaining a good hold on this element sets the path for a smooth migration to integrated information delivery. Some of the other things to be considered include fulfilment of cross functional requirements.
4. Data integration strategy - in hybrid ecosystem transaction systems often remain in different platforms. Transition to cloud makes the pursuit of EPM integration a moving target. Data source definitions and sound integration strategy carry the biggest weight.
5. Past few years have witnessed giant leap in faith; to complement this brewing revolution last mile reporting capabilities need to augment further. This concerns bringing synergies across internal and external reporting aspects.
There is no silver lining or a panacea for success in the cloud world. All in all, there is a ground to be covered, learning's to be institutionalised across the board before we witness a mature and seamless cloud ecosystem.