FinancialForce zeroes in on the 'as-a-service' economy

The ERP company is leveraging its alliance with Salesforce to bring AI capabilities to customers, as well as a new integration to meet the compliance challenges of service-based business models.

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FinancialForce this week is highlighting new ways it's using its alliance with Salesforce to help customers adjust to the seemingly ubiquitous "as-a-service" business model.

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First, the cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) company, which was built on top of the Salesforce platform, is integrating its financial applications with Salesforce CPQ (configure-price-quote software) to help companies meet new accounting requirements for the "as-a-service" economy.

Additionally, at the Salesforce Dreamforce conference this week, FinancialForce is highlighting how it will be using Salesforce's Einstein platform to deliver AI-powered insights to its customers. The predictive power of Einstein should help customers adopt the right business models to drive growth, FinancialForce CMO Fred Studer said to ZDNet.

"The world has really changed really in the last year -- everything is a service," Studer said, referencing not only IT services but also the new service-based business models emerging for traditional industries like automotive.

"There's new requirements for companies that want to offer their products as services, and it goes way beyond subscription," he said. "It goes into having an unlimited set of business models. That deals with how you deliver your service, how you price it, how you package it, how you help people renew it... If growth is your key driver, you must be able to deliver a flexibility in model."

Having a flexible business model, however, can make it hard to keep up with compliance requirements. The Financial Accounting Standards Board, a US regulatory body that sets up accounting principles, has created a rule called ASC 606, which requires companies to account for different revenue streams. The new rule comes in response to the "as-a-service" economy and the different business models surrounding it. Publicly traded companies are expected to adopt a "revenue recognition" system that complies with the new rules by December, while private companies have one more year.

FinancialForce's new Financial Management tool should enable companies to comply, since quoting and creating contracts (as Salesforce CPQ does) are key to recognizing complex revenue streams, Studer said.

Meanwhile, FinancialForce will soon roll out Einstein-powered capabilities to its customers, after using the Salesforce's AI platform to power an internal app called Pulse. Pulse analyzes FinancialForce data -- such as customer support cases, usage metrics, opportunities, survey data, financial data, and sales invoices -- to unearth insights that can help build specialized services.

FinancialForce plans to deliver that sort of insight to its customers by building Einstein-powered applications across financials, ERP, billing, and financial revenue forecasting. Predictive capabilities should help a company deploy flexible business models, Studer explained, by helping them examine factors like what pricing models or markets offer the most potential.

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