Finance departments are finally beginning to lessen their reliance on spreadsheets and use more advanced analytics. Cognizant of this, Host Analytics delivered improved reporting and analysis capabilities with the latest release of its Host Analytics Performance Platform, announced last week.
According to the company, the new analytics capabilities enhance users' ability to analyze and understand workforce-related data and to create ad-hoc reports against it. Host Analytics also rolled out a beta release of a new module that leverages an integration with Qlik Sense data visualization software. Using the module, Host Analytics users will be able to create a wide variety of visualizations that can then be used to create dashboards and initiate visual discovery scenarios.
"A company's workforce is almost always its largest expense and biggest asset. Workforce planning is critical to managing this significant expense, and the new dynamic reporting functionality for workforce analytics makes this even more valuable by providing better insights into our workforce data," said Rick Odom, senior manager -- Financial Planning & Analysis for Welch Allyn, a Host Analytics customer. "Because it is now much more user-friendly, we can roll it out to more users and broaden its use as a solid tool to manage our workforce."
Host Analytics also beefed up the software's collaboration capabilities. In addition to embedded social collaboration, users now have the optional ability to integrate with third-party collaboration tools such as Slack. According to Host Analytics, this enables stronger internal partnerships across business functions, better alignment of finance and operations, and faster planning and reporting cycles. An integration with Google for Work makes it easier for workgroups to collaborate around planning and reporting tasks using Google Sheets and Google Drive.
Robert Kugel, senior vice president and research director at Ventana Research, said that enabling collaboration in context within the application is important as it "can save time and provide an easily accessed record of conversations for future reference."
The company also enhanced its user interface, introducing custom branding options, streamlined navigation features and a more integrated platform experience. The release is also browser-agnostic, offering users a choice of popular browsers and the flexibility to deploy to Windows or Mac OS environments.
"The improved user interface ... will make it easier for new users to learn and navigate the system," said DeeAnne McClenahan, senior director, Property Budgeting at Greystar, a Host Analytics customer. "We are also excited about the ability to incorporate our company logo and branding into the system to make it more familiar to our users."
Host Analytics included several customer-requested feature enhancements in the release. Among them:
- simplified planning templates
- 13-period support for consolidations
- ability to support multiple sets of books for USGAAP and IFRS reporting
- a scheduler for data integration, Excel 2016 support and detailed audit logs for the modeling module
To enable tighter integration of enterprise performance management and ERP applications, the release introduces real-time Dell Boomi Connectors, as well as certified NetSuite ERP integration.
Finally, the company says extended in-memory processing offers improvements in performance, with some benchmarks delivering increases of 50 percent or more across various planning and reporting scenarios. Additionally, the ability to load, process and interrogate larger, more complex data sets is also now available through the implementation of incremental updates and loading. This has cut data load times by up to 80 percent in many scenarios and has simplified the data management process.
"The biggest practical benefit of the in-memory performance, data integration and incremental cube updates is being able to make same-time and real-time decisions based on all relevant financial and business data instead of seeing artificial lags based solely on technical barriers," said Hyoun Park, chief research officer at Blue Hill Research. "The user interface, modeling, Excel and collaboration improvements make Host Analytics more mobile, social, ubiquitous and contextual."