This blog is the eleventh in a series developed from research underwritten by SAP which explores how new technologies such as cloud computing, mobility and in-memory processing of Big Data are expanding planning, budgeting and forecasting best practices.

As my previous posts have illustrated, innovative technologies like cloud computing, in-memory processing and mobility continue to evolve. They are joined by other technology trends such as social media, the consumerization of IT, virtualization and an overwhelming push to greater use of analytics. While individually powerful, these technologies can provide exponential improvements when used in combination. As finance teams understand how to harness these developments, they will be able to transform planning. In doing so, they will transform their entire organization.

Leading a team or an organization is a lot like being a parent. You try to lead in the best way possible but you are always nervous of whether you are leading properly. In 1993, my daughter Emily was born (she is the second of my three children). That same year the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" was released based on the life of chess player Joshua Waitzkin who, like Fischer, was a child chess prodigy (it is a great movie I recommend for anyone). One particular character (played in the movie by Laurence Fishburne) has a line I have always remembered. He first recognized Joshua's talent by noting that in his chess play he "attacks in combinations."

I have always remembered that line when I consider innovations. One idea may be good. But the idea can be amplified when it is used in combination with others. While many of my recent blog posts have discussed individual uses of how cloud, in-memory computing and mobility have each expanded planning best practices, I find that using them in combination has even greater potential.

A chess master uses his pieces to not only attack but to simultaneously defend his other pieces. Likewise mobility can extend the reach of in-memory processing which in turn is fed by mobility's extended reach. Cloud computing facilitates the rapid expansion of both generating quicker return on investment. New acquisitions can be quickly added to the planning grid – new forecasting approaches rapidly deployed. Using these approaches allows planners to move swiftly into new forecasting routines. And punching in combination can also be used to leverage existing technology investments.