Host Analytics on Tuesday introduced a cloud-based sales-planning application that's integrated with Salesforce.com. Host isn't the first vendor to recognize that sales-and-marketing types could use a more powerful budgeting and forecasting tool than Microsoft Excel.
Host Analytics Sales Planning borrows its budgeting wizardry from the core Host Analytics cloud-based corporate performance management (CPM) suite. The CPM category targets CFOs and the corporate finance team, but more than a few of these vendors are breaking into more mainstream categories including business intelligence and planning for users outside of finance.
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The Salesforce.com AppExchange is a good starting point for Host because it's an app store for more than 100,000 Salesforce-subscribing companies that are known to be partial to cloud-based applications. Host Analytics Sales Planning is geared to sales leaders and operations managers as well as marketing types who analyze data from Salesforce.com-integrated marketing apps such as Marketo and Eloqua.
"A lot of Salesforce.com users are dumping data into Excel because Salesforce doesn't have historical data or multi-dimensional anlalysis," said Alex Ortiz, Host Analytics' head of product marketing, in a phone interview with InformationWeek. "With Excel they're forced to stitch a bunch of information together and to try to combine it with marketing data and other data to produce weekly executive reports."
Host Analytics Sales Planning pulls data from Salesforce.com automatically, and the centralized system ensures consistency when multiple users are trying to collaborate and plan based on the same data. When customers also use Host Analytics CMP, sales data is tied in with corporate financial information.
What other vendors have recognized the budgeting and planning gap? Host's arch rival Adaptive Insights, for one, offers a cloud-based app on the AppExchange targeting "sales forecasting, quota planning, analytics and reporting, all unified with Salesforce."
Another vendor touting cloud-based, general-purpose budgeting, planning, and forecasting is IBM, which has adapted its Cognos TM1 CPM tools and compensation-management capabilities from Vericent (acquired in 2012) to create IBM Concert. This app isn't integrated with Salesforce.com specifically, but IBM bills it as cloud-based budgeting, planning, and forecasting app for sales, marketing, and incentive-compensation decision makers.
As a point of differentiation, Host says its new app includes an AirliftXL feature that imports all the Excel spreadsheets you're using today and recreates the structure, formulas, and formatting for use within Host Analytics Sales Planning.
Another differentiator may be cost. Adaptive Insights and IBM don't publish their pricing, but Host Analytics says its CPM and Sales Planning apps start at $1,400 per month with a one-year contract. On top of this base fee you pay $16 per user, per month for read-only users, $60 per-user, per-month for contributors, and $125 per-user, per-month for power users.
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