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Publication date: 28 December 2020

In a time when tomorrow seems like a doubtful event for most businesses, how does Planning work exactly? This week, we sat down with Stefan Spielvogel, our Lead Consultant Planning at HICO-Group, to chat about the state of the Enterprise Planning arena, changes in the BI market, and how to properly “look ahead” in the ever-evolving world of today.

But first, let’s talk about life. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Stefan (and the world) had to get used to the new reality of remote work and home office. For him, it was slightly different – for three big reasons. 

“I can finally spend a lot more time with my wife and two daughters,” shouts Stefan. “I think now my daily ‘planning’ looks vastly different than before. I have to take into account the girls’ school prep, family meals, and all this newfound time that I can spend with them. I traveled a lot before the lockdown started due to work and would sometimes stay away from home for days or weeks. Now with work-from-home in effect, I can say that before I had more of a work-life balance with a clear schedule every day, and now it’s more work-life blending.”

You mentioned this newfound time in your life… Is there any new time you found for other activities, such as new hobbies or watching movies and TV shows?

“I listen to a lot of new interesting podcasts. Besides informative news or sport podcasts, I started to listen to the Joe Rogan Podcast; some topics – not all – are great fun. It is super interesting and informative. In terms of new activities, believe it or not, we bought a horse!,” Stefan reveals.

Wait, what? A horse? How did that happen?! 

“Well, my wife and my two daughters – they love horses. Our new friend is staying at a stable about half a kilometer away from our home. We go there by bike every single day to feed it, brush it, and hike with it. Not sure if this counts as a new hobby but it is definitely good exercise – both physical and mental – given all the work that is involved and also the time we get to spend outdoors in the fresh air.”

That sounds like something out of a fairytale, Stefan. Despite the lockdown(s), we are sure your 2020 has been enjoyable, in a very new way. Speaking of which, are there any other personal highlights of your year you’d like to share with us?

“I think it would have to be more time to do sports and just more physical activity, in general. As I said earlier, I used to travel a lot so being able to take care of my body when and how I want to has been good for me. I am feeling great and positive about everything this year despite everything that’s going on. Altogether, this translates to me being a lot more active and productive at work, as well.”

Glad you mentioned work, Stefan, because we also want to talk about that a bit more. From your perspective, how is Planning shaping up at the moment, given the pandemic?

“In all of this uncertainty, I think one thing has become clear,” Stefan posits. “Now more than ever, customers should invest in creating a really good system to do their planning, budgeting, and forecasting. This year is the best example of why that matters. Most customers had to re-forecast their entire business when the pandemic hit. This sparked the need for new, great planning tools that are fast and allow them to adjust their planning, even under heavy pressure. The flexibility of Jedox as our go-to planning tool allows them to do just that.”

As even greater adoption of Enterprise Planning tools is on the horizon, is there any particular area of business that customers focus more on than others when it comes to Planning, in general?

“For us, the integration of Financial Consolidation and planning with Jedox will be a huge step forward. It is one of the biggest demands of many customers. Furthermore, the implementation of AI-based models will change the market within the next years.”

How do you see Planning changing or advancing in the future?

“Based on what we can see now, AI is a trend that is gaining new ground. I think a lot more smaller trends will derive from that which will drive the adoption of Planning in newer ways. Essentially, there will be even more automation and more possibilities with using an AI model,” Stefan explains. “Less guesswork. More frequent planning. More technologies and integrations. In general, I think the main point is to get as much speed, flexibility, and control as you possibly can with your planning.”

Great insights! Being that you mentioned possibilities, Stefan, is there any piece of advice you’d like to share during these times that might open up new possibilities for businesses and partners out there?

“Invest and innovate. Spend some resources into innovations that can help you not only run your business efficiently but also save it in times of crisis. The pandemic is only one example of a great crisis – who knows what or when the next one will be? By controlling your data, having an overview of your data as well as deep insights, you’ll have the luxury of good planning – to plan ahead. Without good planning , there is a significantly lower probability you’ll make the right decisions. Have the advantage. Invest in your data. Plan for the future.”

Well said. Thank you, Stefan. To end the interview, we’d like to ask you some Rapid Fire questions if you don’t mind. Short questions – short answers. First one…

Choose one word to describe 2020.

“Either uncertainty or chances.”

Choose one word to describe “life at HICO” in 2020.


Work or sleep – which do you do more nowadays?


Favorite sports and sports team.

“Soccer (Football). Bayern München.”

Which came first – the chicken or the egg?

“Chicken. I think.”

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