Technology Record - Issue 22: Autumn 2021

54 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om I NT E R V I EW T he pandemic has given businesses a new- found understanding of the importance of having the right tools for effective forecast- ing, according to Rishi Grover, co-founder and chief solutions architect at Vena. “Pre-pandemic everyone used their forecasting models to look one or two years ahead, maybe five years at a push,” he says. “These forecasts were based on assumptions that business would carry on as usual, with some growth patterns based on the market and the industry. But now we have been through something that caused everything to change overnight.” Businesses had to be able to quickly reforecast their business models to include a large amount of uncertainty. “Firms that were not already agile struggled to do this,” says Grover. “The pandemic was obviously terrible, but it was a great use case to understand the value of agility.” To help businesses react to unpredictable changes and be proactive in driving agile and informed decision-making in the face of uncer- tainty, Vena helps its customers with end-to-end business planning, covering finance planning, operational planning, as well as data modelling, analytics and reporting. “With our Complete Planning platform, users have access to a central and analytical database, a workflow to allow for collaboration, and an engine to drive reporting and analytics,” says Grover. The clincher is that Vena’s platform is built on top of Microsoft Excel. “Everyone knows Excel – we grew up with it,” he adds. “It is intuitive and by far the most flexible modelling canvas out there. If you can think it or model it in Excel, then it will fit into Vena. And because businesses need to be very agile, Excel allows them to do that in a quick way so you can easily model scenarios.” But Grover and his team saw opportunities to build on the functionality of Excel, specifically in collaboration, enabling users to aggregate mod- els and performing analysis at a high level. “So that’s where our platform helps, but Excel as the end user modelling tool allows companies to be much more agile,” says Grover. “When the pandemic hit, businesses that were using their own financial planning and analysis (FP&A) solutions – which traditionally replace Excel – immediately exported out to Excel, so that they could play with their model, make changes, test assumptions etc. “It is the financial instinct to work in Excel because users have complete transparency. They can see the data, the models and the formulas, and they can be very nimble in the way that they play with their assumptions. Businesses are now dou- bling down on their ability to be agile, and Excel plays a very good part in being able to do that.” Vena is reinventing financial analysis and planning by building its platform on top of Microsoft Excel. Chief solutions architect Rishi Grover explains the value it brings to customers Excelling in business intelligence BY E L LY YAT E S - ROB E R T S