As we move into the holiday season, it’s great to see all of those old Christmas shows on TV that you used to watch as a child.
I’m talking about shows like “It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas”, “Frosty the Snowman”, ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, and my favorite of all – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”.
Remember The Island of Misfit Toys?
Rudolph is surely a classic, and is my favorite mainly because of the great characters in the show. Guys like Yukon Cornelius, Hermey the elf who wants to be a dentist, and of course, the Abominable Snowman, make me laugh every time. And I think my favorite scene in the show is when the cast ends up on the “Island of Misfit Toys”. It’s the home of those poor toys that are defective such as;
- Charlie in the Box
- The Spotted Elephant
- The Train with Square Wheels
- The Water Gun that Squirts Jelly
- The Bird that Doesn’t Fly
- The Cowboy on an Ostrich
- And the Boat that Can’t Float
Rudolph and the others end up rescuing the misfit toys and finding them homes at the end of the show – it brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.
The Island of Misfit EPM Software Products
The “Island of Misfit Toys” in Rudolph also reminds me of the EPM suites of the mega-vendors in the market. And it brings tears to my eyes to think about how much time and effort their customers spend trying to make these products work together.
Take Oracle. Their EPM suite evolved from “some” internal development and a number of acquisitions. HFM and Hyperion Planning were developed by Hyperion, but in different locations and with different database technologies and metadata models. Some examples of acquisitions include Alcar (Hyperion Strategic Finance), UpStream (FDM), Razza (DRM), and Decisioneering (Crystal Ball). Even OBIEE came via the Siebel acquisition.
SAP’s EPM suite also resulted from a number of acquisitions. The Scorecard came via the Pilot acquisition. SAP BPC came via the OutlookSoft acquisition. SAP BI and the advanced consolidation product came via the Business Objects acquisition, which included the former Cartesis consolidation product. The Business Objects deal also included the Profitability Management product from Armstrong Laing.
IBM’s EPM suite includes a number of acquired products as well. Most of these came from Cognos, who acquired Applix, Adaytum, Frango and others. But it also includes the Disclosure Management product acquired by IBM from Clarity Systems. Not a pretty picture.
No Rudolph to Save the Day
Unfortunately in this movie, there is no Rudolph to save the Misfit Products. The mega-vendors have worked hard to make these products look somewhat similar, and to share data and metadata between them. But customers have found that these products are expensive to implement, and costly to maintain and upgrade. Even such simple tasks as comparing actuals to plan and managing hierarchies is a complex, IT-driven endeavor. As a result many have started to migrate to unified, cloud-based EPM suites from companies like Host Analytics.
The Sequel is Not Much Better
Of course the mega-vendors have responded to customer demand for more easy-to-deploy and cost-effective solutions by offering their own EPM applications in the cloud. But most of these offerings are just the same old hosted versions of the vendors’ on-premises “misfit” products. So while the complex installation process is eliminated by leveraging the “cloud”, these products are still complex to configure. They still have separate data models and have to be integrated with each other. And they don’t integrate easily with your internal systems. And because they are hosted, the cost and effort of upgrading will typically be higher than with true Multi-Tenant, SaaS solutions.
Don’t Get Stuck on the Island of Misfit EPM Products
If you are stuck on the “island of misfit products” and are struggling with the cost of maintaining and upgrading your EPM suite – take a look around. There are other options to consider besides the mega-vendors.
Unified, cloud-based suites such as Host Analytics Cloud EPM Suite offer the same functionality as the mega-vendor suites (see my article: Full-Function EPM in the Cloud: Too Good to be True - or Not?), but can be acquired and implemented at a fraction of the cost of traditional on-premises solutions. And they are also less costly to deploy and maintain vs. the mega-vendor cloud offerings.
Happy Holidays Everyone and Best Wishes for Success in 2016!