The engine room of most western economies is the mid-market. It represents around half of private sector output and employment in the USA and in the UK the figures are even higher, with mid-sized businesses contributing 60% of all private sector employment. Yet, despite the overwhelming importance of the mid-market sector, constituent companies have historically found themselves mired in spreadsheets and disparate operational systems without access to affordable Corporate Performance Management (CPM) systems that are sympathetic to the needs of the mid-market.
Many of the well-known mega-software-vendors have misguidedly tried to fill the vacuum with cut down versions of their enterprise software solution, not realising perhaps that the language and culture of the mid-market is different, or that even mid-sized businesses have to deal with complexity.
Prophix’s crowning innovation was to bring CPM to the mid-market, making it accessible and affordable. And that early tradition of innovation in the mid-market which makes Prophix stand out from the crowd, has continued to evolve. Take for instance this year’s FSN Innovation Showcase in which FSN highlights three areas of outstanding innovation.
Foremost amongst Prophix’s innovations is its unified CPM platform that allows diverse planning needs to be managed in a single environment that is subject to consistent audit, governance and workflow. A unified environment liberates the functions from repetitive processes using spreadsheets and proprietary systems and in so doing, allows FP&A professionals to extend their reach and transform their role as business partners and finance leaders, thereby enabling Integrated Financial Planning.
But it is the breadth of technology solutions sitting in the Amazon cloud platform (which Prophix uses) that is truly transformational, allowing Prophix to leverage web services such as data-visualization, dashboards and even natural language processors that take the user experience to the next level.
For example, Prophix, is driving insight by enabling a more conversational approach to interrogating corporate data without having to understand the underlying data structures. This is especially important as FP&A professionals extend their reach beyond the finance function to operational areas that are uncomfortable with spreadsheet-style reporting.
For this reason, natural language processing (NLP) is an area of intense focus for Prophix as it seeks to leverage tools available on cloud platforms to help non-financial users obtain answers to their most pressing questions. The company is also investing in Artificial Intelligence to humanize the user experience alongside natural language processing so that users could, for example, use a NLP request to generate a one-off report and have it delivered by email to a specified list of recipients.
Of-course technology is only one half of the equation. Prophix succeeds where others have failed because of its empathy with the mid-market. The company’s ethos of continuous, rapid transformation runs through the veins of the organization and the level of partnership that it seeks with its clients. From initial implementation to operation and support, Prophix works closely alongside FP&A professionals to make effective changes that provide a strategic advantage for their organizations.
Rather than being technology-led, Prophix uses a more process-led approach from the start, utilizing its workflow manager to capture a visual model of the present “as-is” process, and collaborating with its users to explore what the “to-be” process could look like as well. This highly visual approach is more engaging and challenging. For example, when the processes are reduced to a series of workflows it is much easier for FP&A professionals and other stakeholders to see inefficiencies and overlaps as well as prioritize areas for change. In addition, an external organization such as Prophix can bring welcome challenge to process design especially where this is grounded in deep domain expertise and vertical market knowledge based on more than 3,000 mid-market implementations.
Whether it’s through edgy technology or domain knowledge, Prophix’s overriding innovation is that it has extended the reach of mid-market FP&A professionals and gifted them the same analytical capabilities that in earlier years were only available to much larger enterprises.